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Martin P. Durkin, Secretary


Ewan Clague, Com m issioner




Employment Outlook in Printing Occupations
A Reprint from the
1951 Occupational Outlook Handbook

Bulletin No. 1126
Martin P. Durkin, Secretary
Ewan Clague, Com m issioner

In cooperation with
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. - Price 25 cents

U nited S tates D epartm ent of L abor ,
B ur ea u of L abor S tatistics ,

Washington, D . C ., February 2, 1953.

The S ecretary of L abo r :
have the honor to transmit herewith a report on the employment outlook in printing
occupations taken from our 1951 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This
reprint from the Handbook is being issued at this time to make available to the many
counselors, teachers, students, and others who seek accurate occupational information,
a separate report on the printing occupations to replace our Bulletin No. 902, issued in
1947, which described the outlook in this field.
Librarians, counselors, and other users of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, as
well as others with special interest in a single occupation or industry, have indicated the
need for separate reports on the major occupational and industrial fields covered in the
The research for the Occupational Outlook Handbook was carried on with the
financial support of the Veterans Administration, which needed information for use in its
vocational rehabilitation and education activities.
Hon. M artin P. D u r k in ,

Secretary oj Labor.

E w an C lague , Commissioner.

Printing occupations_______________
Methods of printing___________
Printing occupations___________
Fields of employment__________
Where printing jobs are found__
Earnings and working conditions.
How to enter the field__________
Employment prospects_________
Where to get more information. _
Labor organizations____________
Trade associations and others___
Hand compositors and typesetters___
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Training and qualifications_____
Outlook________ __________ ___
Earnings and unionization______
Linotype operators_________________
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Training and qualifications_____
Earnings and unionization______
Monotype keyboard operators______
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Outlook__ ____________________
Earnings and unionization______
Monotype caster operators_________
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Qualifications for employment__
Earnings and unionization______
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Qualifications for employment__
Earnings and unionization______
Electrotypers and stereotypers______
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work________________
Earnings and unionization--------Photoengravers____________________
Outlook summary_____________
Nature of work-----------------------Qualifications for employment__
Earnings and unionization______


Rotogravure photoengravers_____________________________________________________________
Outlook summary__________________________________________________________________
Nature of work_____________________________________________________________________
Qualifications for employment_______________________________________________________
Earnings and unionization___________________________________________________________
Printing pressmen and assistants (letterpress and gravure)_________________________________
Outlook summary__________________________________________________
Nature of work____________________________________________________________________
Press assistants________________________________________________________________
Qualifications_______________________________________________ ^______________________
Outlook_____________________________ _______________________________________________
Press assistants_____________________________________________________________________
Earnings and unionization___________________________________________________________
Lithographic (offset) occupations_________________________________________________________
Outlook summary__________________________________________________________________
Nature of work_____________________________________________________________________
Artists and letterers____________________________________________________________
Pressmen and assistants____________________________________
Training and qualifications__________________________________________________________
Earnings and unionization___________________________________________________________
Outlook summary__________________________________________________________________
Nature of work_____________________________________________________________________
Qualifications for employment______________________________________________________
Earnings and unionization___________________________________________________________
Bindery workers________________________________________________________________________
Outlook summary__________________________________________________________________
Nature of work_____________________________________________________________________
Outlook_________________________________________________________.--------------------------Earnings and unionization---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------66.


Major printing occupations, employment,1940-------------------------------------------------------------Newspaper and job shops employ mostprinting workers, 1947---------------------------------------About half the printing jobs are intheMiddle Atlantic and Great Lakes Regions, 1947____
Printing employment made recordgains inpostwar period_______________________________
A general picture of the flow of work in printing_______________________________________



1. Union wage scales in important printing centers in selected pressroom occupations, July 1,
2. Union hourly wage scales in lithographic occupations in selected cities, Dec. 15, 1949______


Cover Picture—Courtesy of Columbia Typographical Union, No. 101, Washington, D. C.


Printing is an art, a great industry, and one of
our chief means of communication. Its contribu­
tion to the growth of democracy was so fundamen­
tal that freedom of the press was one of the basic
rights incorporated in the first amendment to the
United States Constitution.
Printing workers make up one of the largest oc­
cupational groups in American industry. In 1949,
jobs in the printing, publishing, and allied indus­
tries numbered about 725,000, of which roughly
half a million were production and related work­
ers. Outside the industry itself, many thousands
of printing workers were employed by governmen­
tal agencies, factories making items involving
printing but which are not essentially graphic arts
products, businesses doing their own commercial
type printing, libraries, and other categories of
Methods of Printing
Printing is essentially a means of putting ink
on paper, metal, or other types of materials. Pres­
ent-day printing is done with the use of plates
which are “run” on special printing presses.
There are three basic methods of reproduction—
letterpress, gravure printing, and lithography. In
letterpress (also known as relief) printing, the let­
ters and designs to be reproduced are raised above
the nonprinting areas of the type or the press
plate. When the actual printing is done, ink is
applied only to the letters and designs, usually by
means of an inking roller.
In gravure (or intaglio) work, the relation be­
tween the printing and nonprinting areas of the
plate is opposite to that in letterpress. The letters
and designs to be printed are cut or etched into
the plate and are below the nonprinting surface.
Ink has to be applied to the entire plate, but the
surface is then wiped or scraped, leaving ink only
in the depressions. In printing, suction is created,
which lifts the ink out onto the paper.
The plate used in lithography (offset printing)
is smooth or nearly so, with both the image and
nonimage areas on the same level, instead of on
different levels, as in letterpress and gravure work.
Lithography makes use of the principle that grease
and water repel each other. The image areas of

the plate are coated with a greasy substance to
which the greasy printing ink will stick. On the
press, the plate is moistened with water before each
inking, with the result that only the image areas
take up the greasy ink from the inking roller.
In modern lithography the plates are processed
photographically, and the method is often referred
to as photolithography. There are a few types of
work—preparing posters, for example—in which
some of the plates are still made by hand.
Letterpress is the oldest and by far the most
common printing process. Practically all news­
papers, the bulk of books and magazines, and most
other printed items are produced by this method.
Work done by photoengraving shops (chiefly mak­
ing plates for use in relief printing of illustrations
and other copy that cannot be set up in type) and
by stereotyping and electrotyping shops (mainly
producing metal and plastic duplicates of type
forms and photoengravings for use as press plates)
is also part of letterpress printing operations.
Gravure printing, the process least employed
(but most rapidly growing) is of two main types:
Rotogravure (in which press plates are made from
pictures by a method based on photography) and
hand or machine engraving. The picture supple­
ments of some Sunday newspapers are the best
known rotogravure items. Rotogravure pictures
appear in many magazines and are used in other
forms as well. Some printing on metal foil is
done by this means. Hand or machine engraving
is used in making engraved stationery, greeting
cards, paper money, bonds, and similar products.
Lithography is in use to a much greater extent
than the gravure method of reproduction, but con­
siderably less than letterpress techniques. Prac­
tically all items printed by the relief process are
also produced by lithography—including, for
example, books, calendars, maps, posters, labels,
office forms, sheet music, and even newspapers.
Almost all printing on metal and much of the
printing on rough paper is done by this method.
Printing Occupations
The all-round printer skilled in typesetting and
also in operating a press was the typical printing
worker up to the closing years of the nineteenth



EMPLOYM ENT, 1 9 4 0







Compositors and Type­
setters, hand
Linotype Operators
Monotype Keyboard
Monotype Caster
including rotogravure

Artists and
Pressmen and
Plate Printers
Press Assistants
Bindery Workers,





century. Some craftsmen who are adept in
both kinds of work are still employed in small
newspaper and job shops. In the printing indus­
try as a whole, however, they are greatly outnum­
bered by specialized craftsmen and semiskilled
The largest group of skilled and semiskilled
workers are in the composing room, the depart­
ment responsible for typesetting and composition.
Other major groups are the printing pressmen and
their assistants, photoengravers and rotogravure
photoengravers, electrotypers and stereotypers,
lithographic workers, and bookbinders and bind­
ery workers. Chart 66 indicates the relative im­
portance of the largest printing occupations.
Besides the occupations shown in chart 66, there
are many other small groups of skilled or semi­
skilled printing workers. In some plants, espe­
cially in the newspaper industry, the composingroom work force includes Ludlow operators, who
run a typecasting machine known as the Ludlow
Typograph. Big composing rooms nearly always
employ one or more “stonemen,” who place the
pages of type in the large type form in which they
leave the department.
Another small group of workers, found in large
plants, are mechanics who specialize in repairing
and adjusting typesetting machines, printing
presses, or bindery machines. Steel and copper­
plate engravers, on the other hand, work mainly
in small engraving shops. They cut or etch let­
tering and designs into plates by hand or machine.
Most of the occupations indicated in chart 66
and the preceding paragraphs are skilled jobs.
The main exceptions are the press assistants and
nonjourney men bindery workers, whose jobs are
semiskilled. Proofreaders in nonunion shops are
sometimes classed as clerical employees.
In skilled occupations practically all the workers
are men. However, many of the semiskilled work­
ers, especially in binderies, are women. Small
numbers of Negroes are employed in skilled jobs;
a greater number in semiskilled occupations. In
the several hundred shops which print newspapers
or other items for the Negro community (maga­
zines have experienced unusual growth in recent
years) the great majority of workers in all types
of jobs are Negroes.

To complete the picture of the printing and pub­
lishing work force, the professional, administra­
tive, clerical, and unskilled employees of printing
plants should be mentioned. The chief profes­
sional workers are the reporting and editorial
stalls of newspapers and other publishers. In ad­
dition, all sizable plants employ increasing num­
bers of executives, estimators, salesmen, stenog­
raphers, clerks, and laborers of various types;
these employees usually have duties much like
those of comparable personnel in other industries.

Fields of Employment
The establishments engaged primarily in job or
commercial printing make up the largest printing
industry, in terms of employment of production
workers (see chart 67). In 1947, as for many years
in the past, about a third of such workers were
employed in job shops.
The Nation’s commercial plants produce a
greater variety of printed matter than the other
types of shops. Letterheads, business forms, pos­
ters, displays, calendars, and folders are but a few
of the many thousands of items made by job plants.





In addition, a large number of these commercial
shops do a considerable amount of printing of
newspapers, periodicals, books, pamphlets, or other
items which are mainly produced in other branches
of the printing industry.
Newspapers make up the second largest em­
ployer of production workers in the printing and
publishing fields. Newspaper plants concentrate
mainly on turning out newspapers and do rela­
tively little printing of other materials. On the
average, newspaper shops are larger than commer­
cial printing establishments.
As chart 67 shows, lithography was the printing
industry’s third largest employer of production
and related workers in 1947, followed by book­
binding establishments and periodical printers
and publishers. In addition, a considerable

amount of lithographic reproduction was done in
letterpress and other types of printing plants.
Among the smaller branches of the printing in­
dustries, according to the 1947 Census of Manu­
factures, are those made up of its book publishers
and printers, greeting card manufacturers, and
service shops. The last named do primarily type­
setting, engraving (includingphotoengraving), or
electrotyping and stereotyping; this is done as a
service to regular printers and others doing their
own reproduction work.
In addition to the workers in firms that are
mainly engaged in printing, or in publishing and
printing, many printing and bindery workers are
employed by Government agencies and libraries,
and also by manufacturers and other firms doing
some printing in connection with their opera­


tions—for example, canned goods producers print­
ing their own labels. The largest printing plant
in the world is the United States Government
Printing Office in Washington, D. C.
Where Printing Jobs Are Found

As chart 68 shows, well over half of the printing
jobs in the country are located in a few States,
mainly in the Middle Atlantic and Great Lakes
regions. The principal States and cities are New
York (New York City), Illinois (Chicago),
Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and Ohio (Cleve­
land and Cincinnati). Well over half of the
Nation’s printing is done in these States. Other
leading centers are Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Detroit, St. Louis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Washington, D. C., takes on special importance as
a printing center owing to the concentration there
of the Government’s printing and engraving
Employment in job and periodical printing is
concentrated to a considerable extent in these
areas. In the newspaper industry, a much larger
proportion of jobs is found outside the main cen­
ters because of the great number of small, local
newspapers scattered elsewhere throughout the
country. Almost every small town has a printing
shop of some kind—frequently a small newspaper
plant which also handles the community’s job
Earnings and Working Conditions

Earnings have long tended to be higher in print­
ing than in most other industries, owing to the
large number of skilled workers employed, the
strong influence of the printing unions, and other
factors. In March 1950, production workers and
nonsupervisory employees in newspaper plants
averaged $2.12 an hour, considerably higher than
in all but a very few industries. In manufactur­
ing, the next highest earnings for the same class
of workers were in petroleum refining, with an
average hourly figure of $1.90, in March 1950.
The other printing industries also showed hourly
earnings in March 1950 higher than those for most
groups: $1.84 for production workers in periodical
printing and publishing; $1.82 for those in litho­
graphic plants; commercial and job shops, $1.79;
and book printing and publishing, $1.64. The

average for all printing industries combined was
$1.86; for all manufacturing, $1.43.
The comparisons and averages cited above refer
to production workers and nonsupervisory em­
ployees only, but cover all classes of such personnel.
They include premium pay for overtime hours
worked, extra pay for night shifts, and other forms
of compensation which add to base pay.
Earnings may vary considerably among individ­
ual printing workers. The differences may be a
result of occupational variations in wage scales.
The practices of different employers and unions in
the same or in different cities may play a part.
Many workers receive premium rates for long
service, quality work, or for other reasons. Addi­
tional factors make for differences in pay between
individual workers.
The best source of information on basic pay
rates in printing occupations is the union wage
scales for selected groups in the important print­
ing centers reported annually to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics. Averages obtained from these
scales differ from those shown above not only in
that the union rates cover only certain individual
trades, principally in the skilled crafts, but also
in that they are the minimum basic scales for the
given occupational classifications and subclassifica­
Union wage scales are usually uniform for each
occupation in a given locality, and are representa­
tive generally of wage rates in the highly organ­
ized skilled trades and, to a lesser extent, those in
semiskilled printing jobs. A range indicated for
a given occupation and city (as shown in the re­
ports on individual printing occupations which
follow) means that there are two or more effective
rates falling under the same general occupational
classification, based on variations in job content
or requirements. For example, the standard pho­
toengraver rate in an area may be $2.58 an hour,
while tint layers in the occupation may earn $2.84;
or there might be a rate of $1.50 an hour for onecolor pressmen in a given city, and $1.75 an hour
for two-color men in the same city, under the same
contract. There are frequently differences in the
union wage scale between English and foreignlanguage operations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ union wage
scales do not include Government scales, although
these may be arrived at through negotiation with


employee organizations, including the regular
printing trades unions found in private industry.
Scales of the Government Printing Office are in­
dicated separately at appropriate points of this
Starting pay of an apprentice (see p. 304) is
usually 30 or 40 percent of the wage rate for jour­
neymen in the shop. This is increased once or
twice a year, until, in the final year or half-year of
training, he receives 80 or 90 percent of the jour­
neymen rate. Men who have had some experience
in the trade, civilian or military, can often obtain
credit for this. They will then start at a wage
above the beginning apprentice rate, and the
length of time before they become journeymen will
be reduced. Veterans who qualify under the GI
Bill of Bights may also receive subsistence al­
lowances* from the Federal Government during
part or all of the training period.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics obtains the sep­
arate union wage scales for day and night work.
The rates referred to below and elsewhere through­
out this report are for day work. More detailed
information on union wage scales than appears
in this report is available upon request.
In July 1949, union wage scales in the 77 print­
ing centers covered taken together averaged about
$2.50 an hour in the newspaper industry; $2.08 in
book and job work. Three-fifths of the workers
covered were employed at scales ranging from $2
to $2.60 an hour. In the half-year following July
1949, many wage scales increased. Most increases
appeared to fall within a range of 5 to 15 cents an
hour, or $2 to $6 a week.
In most printing plants, as in many other man­
ufacturing establishments, workers are paid timeand-a-half not only for work in excess of a specified
number of hours a week, but also for hours in ex­
cess of 8 a day. For such overtime purposes, the
standard workweek in mid-1949 was usually 37%
hours in the mechanical departments of newspaper
plants where collective bargaining agreements
were in effect. Shorter schedules apparently pre­
vailed under contracts in shops outside the news­
paper industry. There is considerable variation,
however. In newspaper work, for example, ac­
cording to the American Newspaper Publishers
Association, a young man going into a small plant
would most likely work a 40-hour week. In a
metropolitan plant, he might be on a schedule even
shorter than 35 hours*

Work on Sundays and holidays is customarily
paid for at time-and-a-half or double-time rates in
most branches of printing, In newspaper plants,
an individual employee’s regular workweek often
must include Sundays and holidays; time-and-ahalf or double-time is paid for these days only
when they are not part of the employee’s regular
shift. In early 1950, night-shift workers in union
shops generally received about $5 or more extra
for the regular workweek.
Yearly earnings of workers depend not only on
rates of pay and related provisions, but also on
how regularly they are employed. Printing
workers are fortunate in having steadier employ­
ment and earnings than workers in many other
industries. This is true especially in the news­
paper field.
Paid vacations are called for by most union con­
tracts. The most common provision is 2 weeks’
vacation with pay after 1 year of employment.
In addition, the printing unions are noted for
welfare provisions for their members. For ex­
ample, pensions, sanitarium facilities, and educa­
tional programs are frequently provided. The
principal labor organizations are listed on page
307, and are referred to elsewhere in this report.
IIow To Enter the Field

Apprenticeship is the accepted way of entering
skilled printing occupations. With very rare ex­
ceptions, it is the only means by which one may
qualify as a journeyman in a union shop, where the
ratio of apprentices to journeyman is established
by agreement between the employer and unions.
Printing apprenticeships usually require from 4
to 6 years, depending on the occupation and
whether the shop is union or nonunion. The
training program covers all phases of the particu­
lar trade and almost always includes classes in
related technical subjects, as well as training on the
To be eligible for apprenticeship, applicants are
generally required to be 18 (sometimes only 17)
years of age and not over 30. A physical examina­
tion is usually given to find out whether the appli­
cant is free from communicable diseases, has eye­
sight adequate for the particular occupation, and is
in good enough physical condition to do the work
which will be involved in his job.


Exceptional physical strength is rarely required.
Printing is, on the whole, a relatively good field of
employment for handicapped people. A consid­
erable number of workers, particularly linotypists
and compositors, have speech or hearing defects;
some are even totally deaf. Men who have lost one
or both legs or do not have the use of all 10 fingers
have proved satisfactory in some composing-room
occupations. Success in a job generally depends
on the individual’s ability to do the work and to
adjust himself to specific working conditions.
Handicapped people should not consider them­
selves automatically disqualified for employment
in the industry, but should seek competent profes­
sional advice.
Education is another factor which employers
consider in selecting apprentices. A high school
education is usually required and always pre­
ferred. A thorough knowledge of spelling, punc­
tuation, and grammar is essential for most trades.
Technical training in printing in a vocational
school is desirable. Printing courses in a high
school, often given as part of a general industrial
arts program, are also good preparation. In addi­
tion, courses in art, such as drawing, design, color,
and lettering, are helpful for many kinds of print­
ing work. Such courses are offered by the Carne­
gie Institute of Technology (in Pittsburgh, Pa.),
Rochester (N. Y.) Institute of Technology, and
New York (City) Printing School and are consid­
ered to be unusually good.
In late 1949, an estimated 20,000 veterans were
receiving some training or education in connection
with printing and publishing vocations under the
GI Bill of Rights. Nonveterans in similar train­
ing programs also numbered in the thousands.
Employment Prospects

During the early fifties, employment in printing
occupations as a whole will remain about the same
as in 1949. There will be some job openings each
year, largely to replace men leaving the printing
trades because of death and retirement. The de­
fense production program begun during 1950 is
not likely to increase the volume of printing sub­
stantially over the high postwar levels. The bulk
of printing production is connected with advertis­
ing, or is used for education, information or recre­
ation, and is not directly affected by defense re­
quirements. There may be some slight increase in















the total output of printed materials to meet the
expanded needs of the Armed Forces, and the ac­
companying higher levels of business activity.
Many of the printing plants will be able to handle
any increases in their business by lengthening the
workweek of their employees. If, as seems likely
under the mobilization plans set up in 1950, a large
proportion of the Nation’s youth is taken into the
Armed Forces, at least temporarily, there will be
less competition for apprenticeship openings. On
the other hand, it is probable that the printing
industries will offer fewer apprenticeships. The
widely discussed recent technological develop­
ments in printing are not likely to affect employ­
ment appreciably during this period.
Over the longer run, printing employment is
likely to show a gradual increase. The history of
employment in the printing industry has been one
of steady growth, except for periods of severe
business depression (chart 69). In 1899, there
were about 200,000 jobs in production and related
work in the printing, publishing, and allied indus­
tries. By 1929, the number had risen almost 80
percent to more than 350,000. During this same


period the actual output of printed matter in­
creased much more rapidly.
Printing activity was hit fairly hard by the de­
pression of the early 1930’s, although printing em­
ployment did not decline as much as that in other
industries. Newspaper and magazine publishing
held up particularly well. Total employment of
production workers in printing and publishing
dropped to about 260,000 in 1933, but recovered to
about 350,000 by 1937, according to census reports.
Probably the sharpest year-to-year gain in print­
ing employment ever recorded was that which
occurred between 1945 and 1946. During World
War II, the number of wage earners was not much
above the 1939 level of 325,000. Instead, hours of
work were increased to meet the heavier demands
for printing. The great postwar boom in general
business and reductions in the length of the work­
week expanded printing employment to 438,000 in
1947. Following this upsurge in employment, the
number of production jobs leveled off in 1948 and
In the future as in the past, population growth
and the general tendency toward greater use of
printing material for information, advertising, en­
tertainment, and various industrial and commer­
cial purposes should cause further gains in print­
ing output over the long run. But past experience
in this field also indicates that possible gains in
employment arising from increased consumption
of printed matter will be limited by technical im­
provements in the printing process. In the past
few years there have been a number of develop­
ments which may have considerable effect on print­
ing methods and the number and kinds of printing
workers employed.
Now in commercial use or in the laboratory stage
are a wide variety of new devices and techniques,
ranging from such comparatively simple items as
electronic counters to highly complex systems of
radio transmission of copy and proof. Some of
the new methods affect primarily a single printing
operation, while the influence of others may be
spread across the entire printing field.
One of the developments, relating to composingroom work, involves the use of special typewriters
which “justify” copy (even it up at the right-hand
margin) by varying the space between words. The
copy is “pasted-up,” photographed, and plates
made by means of photoengraving. These are then
used to produce stereotypes or offset plates from

which the printing is done. When used, this
process eliminates the usual typesetting process.
Implying a still greater technical revolution is
the Fotosetter, a photocomposition machine al­
ready in commercial use. This equipment is said to
be as effective in composition as is the present-day
method of setting type. It is claimed also that
it is easier to operate than typesetting machines
now in use and that it does the job faster. One
of its outstanding features is a special automatic
camera which photographs letter characters one
at a time and records them on a new type of photo­
graphic film in lines assembled in galley form.
This film can then be used to make offset plates or
A new type of machine can be used in engraving
in place of the conventional chemical process. In
this new method a heated steel stylus is guided
by means of photo-electric cells.
Electronic printing, another new development,
may replace some of the conventional printing
presses. In this process, ink is drawn off the print­
ing surface onto the paper by an electric force; no
physical contact occurs between the printing sur­
face and the paper. It is claimed that printed
matter can he turned out by this method at many
times the speed of regular presses. At the same
time, improvements are being made on old style
presses which increase their speed of operation,
and these should have a definite influence on press­
room labor requirements.
The introduction of these and other methods is
likely to be gradual. They will have a tendency
to reduce printing employment or to limit gains
which would result from increased demands for
printed materials. To the extent that they do in­
crease efficiency of printing operations and hold
down printing costs, they may actually encourage
greater use of printing. This has been the case
with the important innovations in the past, such
as the linotype machine. Despite the labor-saving
effects of these inventions, printing employment
continued to grow rapidly.
Another important factor which will tend to
limit any possible decrease in employment result­
ing from technological changes is the likelihood
of a continued reduction in the length of the work­
week in printing plants. Over a period of years,
weekly work schedules have been steadily cut from
the 9-hour day and 6-day week which prevailed in
commercial printing at the beginning of the cen­


tury, to workweeks of 35 and 37y2 hours which
are now prevalent in newspaper plants and job
shops. The limiting of the number of weekly
hours (at straight-time pay) is a policy of the
printing unions which is expected to continue in
future years.
The over-all result of the increased demands for
printing, technological changes, and the trend
toward a shorter workweek should be a slight and
gradual long run increase in employment. How­
ever, there will be more job openings each year to
replace older workers who die or retire than will
be caused by the small increases in employment.
Where To Get More Information

Additional information on the printing indus­
tries, on methods of printing, and on typesetting
and many other printing occupations is given in:
Employment Outlook in Printing Occupations.
Bulletin No. 902. U. S. Department of Labor,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1947. 36 pp., illus.
Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.
Price 20 cents.
Information on opportunities for apprentice­
ship or other types of printing employment in a
particular locality may be obtained from several
different sources. Applicants may go to the
nearest office of their State employment service
affiliated with the United States Employment
Service, or to any printing plants in the neighbor­
hood (addresses can be obtained from the classified
section of the local telephone directory). Local
unions and employer associations can also be of
great assistance. If none is listed in the telephone
directory, an applicant may write to the following
national headquarters of such organizations and
ask them to refer the letters to their nearest
Labor Organizations
Amalgamated Lithographers of America (CIO),
143 W, 51st St.,
New York 19, N. Y.
International Allied Printing Trades Association
302 AFL Bldg.,
Washington 1, D. C.
International Brotherhood of Bookbinders (AFL),
901 Massachusetts Ave., NW.,
Washington 1, D. C.

International Photo-Engravers’ Union of North Amer­
ica (AFL),
292 Madison Ave.,
New York 17, N. Y.
International Printing Pressmen’s and Assistants’ Un­
ion of North America (AFL),
Pressmen’s Home, Tenn.
International Stereotypers’ and Electrotypers’ Union
752 Old South Building,
Boston 8, Mass.
International Typographical Union (AFL),
2820 N. Meridian St.,
Indianapolis 6, Ind.

Trade Associations and Others
American Photoengravers Association,
166 W. Van Buren St.,
Chicago 4, 111.
Book Manufacturers Institute, Inc.,
25 W. 43d St.,
New York 18, N. Y.
Employing Printers Association of America,
53 W. Jackson Blvd.,
Chicago 4, 111.
International Association of Electrotypers and Stere­
otypers, Inc.,
% Executive Secretary: Mr. A. P. Schloegel,
701 Leader Bldg.,
Cleveland 14, Ohio
International Association of Printing House Crafts­
18 E. Fourth St.,
Cincinnati, Ohio.
Library Binding Institute,
501 Fifth Ave.,
New York, N. Y.
Lithographers National Association, Inc.,
420 Lexington Ave.,
New York 17, N. Y.
Lithographical Technical Foundation, Inc.,
131 E. 39th St.,
New York 16, N. Y.
National Association of Magazine Publishers,
232 Madison Ave.,
New York 16, N. Y.
National Association of Photo-Lithographers,
317 W. 45th St.,
New York 19, N. Y.
Printing Industry of America, Inc.,
719 Fifteenth St., NW.,
Washington 5, D. C.











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D l » A T P A J A Kt C D w
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Hand Compositors and Typesetters
(D. O. T. 4-44.010)

Outlook Summary

Job prospects fair for qualified journeymen in
most parts of country in early fifties, but dimin­
ishing number of apprenticeship openings. Em­
ployment will probably soon resume its long-range
Nature of Work

Copy to be printed by the letterpress process
starts its trip through a printing plant in the
composing room as shown in chart 70. There the
type is set and assembled in type forms, ready for
the pressroom—or for electrotyping or stereotyp­
ing, if printing is to be done from press plates
instead of directly from type forms.
The oldest and largest composing-room occu­
pation (with probably no less than 100,000 now
employed) is that of hand compositor and typeset­
ter. Their job involves setting each line of type
in a “composing stick”—letter by letter and line
by line and, when the stick is full, sliding the com­
pleted lines onto a shallow metal tray or “galley.”
Even in shops where all “straight matter” (such
as you are now reading) is set by machine—and
there are many—hand compositors may still be
needed to set some of the type required for head­
lines, titles, and other special work, and to assem­
ble the machine- and hand-set type. Taking
proofs of type that has been set (i. e., printing a
few copies on a proof press), checking the proofs
against the original copy, correcting errors in
typesetting, page make-up (arranging type and
any needed engravings into pages), and locking
the completed pages into forms are among the
other tasks sometimes performed by compositors,
particularly in small shops. In large plants, page
make-up is usually done by special “make-up men,”
chosen from among the compositors; type forms
are generally locked up by “stonemen.”
All the major branches of letterpress printing—
newspaper, job, book, and periodical—employ
large numbers of hand compositors. Smaller
numbers work in other kinds of printing shops or
in service shops doing typesetting on contract for

printing and other establishments. A good many
men in the occupation have their own small job
or service shop.
Training and Qualifications

A 6-year apprenticeship is usually required for
employment as a journeyman compositor or type­
setter. In union shops, apprenticeship of this
length is always needed except for some veterans
with military experience related to printing, and
apprentices for whom shop foremen recommend
shorter training periods in recognition of out­
standing ability.
The apprenticeship commonly found in this
trade includes a considerable amount of classroom
and correspondence study. Printed manuals of
instruction have been prepared by the Interna­
tional Typographical Union (AFL) and the
Printing Industry of America, Inc. (employer as­
sociation). These manuals are used not only in
apprenticeship programs but also in vocational
Besides having the educational qualifications
needed for all skilled printing occupations, a com­
positor should be good in arithmetic, so that he can
calculate spacing of type on pages. A knowledge
of English is especially important, since the worker
should be able to catch errors in copy before setting
type. Imagination and artistic ability in plan­
ning page lay-outs are assets which may help him
to advance to lay-out work or make a success in
business for himself.
It is necessary for the worker to be in good
enough physical condition to be on his feet 8 hours
a day. He should also be able to use his hands,
arms, and eyes constantly.

Employment prospects for journeymen composi­
tors are expected to be fair in most parts of the
country during the next few years. For a year or
two following VJ-day, there were many more
openings for inexperienced men than usual. I n .
these immediate postwar years, employers, in order


to make up for the wartime deficit in trainees, gen­
erally took on as many apprentices as were per­
mitted by the ratios of apprentices to journeymen
established by union agreements, or that it was
feasible to take on, but training opportunities have
since become much fewer. Apprentice members
of the International Typographical Union in all
printing trades in which the union provides for
such affiliation numbered about 6,500 in mid-1949,
considerably more than in 1945. Similarly, gains
were registered in other categories of hand com­
positor trainees. During the early fifties, appren­
ticeship openings will be fewer, but probably there
will also be a smaller number of applicants.
Employment in this occupation, as before World
War II, will no doubt tend to decrease, in the
long run—owing to continued advances in machine
typesetting and to other factors. The decline will
be slow and will probably not involve many lay­
offs. Men in the occupation should have a good
chance of holding their jobs indefinitely, especially
if they have machine (linotype or monotype) as
well as hand skills.
For years there have been so many small general
printing shops that competition for business has
been keen in most parts of the country, and earn­
ings of shop owners have often been very inade­
quate. Nevertheless, some men may be able to go
into business for themselves during the next few
years. Those with varied experience in the indus­
try will have the best chance of success, especially
if they locate in growing suburban and other
areas where they will not be in direct competition
with well-established “downtown” firms.
Men with composing-room skills plus supervi­
sory and managerial abilities will also find some
immediate openings in salaried positions with
large organizations, and, in general, good oppor­
tunity for advancement to such positions.
Earnings and Unionization

Hand compositors are among the better paid
printing trades workers. Union wage scales in
effect in a large number of cities on July 1, 1950,
averaged nearly $2.42 an hour in book and job
printing and about 8 cents more in newspaper
plants (daywork).
The lowest scale among the cities covered was
in book and job work in Manchester, N. H. and

Savannah, Ga. (see table below). At the extreme
upper end of the scale was a rate of $2.74 an hour,
in Detroit, for some newspaper craftsmen. On
July 1, 1950, more than half the workers were on
pay scales ranging from $2.40 to $2.60 an hour.
The minimum union wage rates for hand com­
positors and typesetters as of July 1,1950, for most
of the important printing centers are shown in
the following tabulation:
CityAtlanta, Ga________
Baltimore, M d_____
Birmingham, Ala___
Boston, Mass_______
Buffalo, N. Y ______
Butte, Mont_______
Charlotte, N. C_____
Chattanooga, Tenn__
Chicago, 111________
Cincinnati, Ohio____
Cleveland, Ohio____
Columbus, Ohio____
Dallas, Tex_________
Davenport, Iowa___
Dayton, Ohio_______
Denver, Colo_______
Des Moines, Iowa__
Detroit, Mich______
Duluth, Minn______
El Paso, Tex_______
Erie, Pa____________
Grand Rapids, Mich_
Houston, Tex______
Indianapolis, Ind___
Jacksonville, Fla____
Kansas City, Mo___
Knoxville, Tenn____
Little Rock, Ark____
Los Angeles, Calif__
Louisville, Ky______
Manchester, N. H __
Memphis, Tenn____
Milwaukee, Wis____
Minneapolis, Minn__
Mobile, Ala________
Moline, 111_________
Newark, N. J______
New Haven, Conn___
New Orleans, La____
New York, N. Y ____
Norfolk, Va________
Oakland, Calif______
Oklahoma City, Okla
Omaha, Nebr_______
Peoria, 111__________
Philadelphia, Pa____


$2. 45
2. 40
2. 38
2. 52
2. 46
2. 40
2. 10
2. 32
2. 63
2. 53
2. 53
2. 48
2. 53
2. 14
2. 37
2. 52
2. 40
1. 50-2. 74
2. 19
2. 35
2. 19
2. 34
2. 57
2. 51
2. 39
2. 44
2. 32
2. 18
2. 48
2. 44
2. 08
2. 40
2. 48
2. 68
2. 28
2. 14
2. 56
2. 27
2. 18
1. 88-2. 73
2. 35
2. 64
2. 33
2. 25
2. 28
2. 40

Book and job

$2. 33
2. 00
2. 33
2. 13
2. 31
2. 37
2. 05
2. 13
2. 59
2. 34
2. 35
2. 35
2. 35
1. 85
2. 37-2. 40
2. 19
2. 19
2. 58-2. 69
1. 75
2. 35
2. 00
2. 15-2. 34
2. 51
2. 27
1. 88
2. 37
2. 25
1. 98
2. 47
2. 06
1. 70
2. 05
2. 35
2. 43
2. 20
1. 85
2. 48
1. 93
2. 10
2. 48
2. 00
2. 63
2. 00
2. 18
2. 08
2. 20


Phoenix, Ariz__
_ __ _
Pittsburgh, Pa
Portland, M ain e.__
Portland, Oreg_ ___
Providence, R. I _____
Reading, Pa _ ___
Richmond, V a _ __
Rochester, N. Y
Rock Island, 111.
St. Louis, Mo
_ _
St. Paul, Minn _ __ __
Salt Lake City, Utah____
San Antonio, Tex ___ _ _
San Francisco, Calif______
Savannah, Ga__________ _
Scranton, Pa______ ________
Seattle Wash______________


$2. 35
2. 53
2. 11
2. 57
2. 42
2. 16
2. 21
2. 32
2. 22
2. 59
2. 65
2. 40
2. 29
2. 64
2. 13
2. 37
2. 71

Book and job

$2. 35
2. 40
1. 80
2. 51
2. 10
2. 04
1. 75
2. 25-2. 29
1. 95
2. 32
2. 43-2. 50
1. 88
2. 18
2. 63
1. 70
2. 28
2. 71



South Bend, Ind __
Spokane, Wash
Springfield, Mass
Syracuse, N. Y
Toledo, Ohio
Washington, D. C
Wichita, Kans
Worcester, Mass
York, Pa
Youngstown, Ohio

$2. 29
2. 49
2. 00
2. 37
2. 55
2. 64
2. 19
2. 29
2. 00
2. 33

Book and job

$2. 18
2. 32
2. 00
2. 35
2. 06-2. 19
2. 40
2. 19
1. 83
2. 00
2. 07

A large proportion, if not the great majority,
of compositors are represented by the Interna­
tional Typographical Union (AFL), one of the
six major unions of printing workers.

Linotype Operators
(D. O. T. 4-44.110)

Outlook Summary
Fairly good employment prospects for skilled
men during early fifties, in country as a whole,
but diminishing number of training opportunities.
Long-run uptrend in employment expected to con­
tinue for some time. Eventually, however, de­
cline in number of jobs is possible, even under
favorable economic conditions.
Nature of Work
In the late 1880’s, a new machine, which was to
revolutionize the composing room and the print­
ing industries generally, came into use. This ma­
chine, the now famous linotype, sets type very
much more rapidly than is possible by hand (as
does the intertype, a similar machine invented
some years later). Reading from copy clipped to
the machine’s copyboard, the linotype or intertype
operator selects the letters and other characters to
be printed by operating a keyboard which has
about 90 keys. After he completes each line, he
works a lever, and the machine then casts the lines
of type automatically in solid strips known as
Other duties performed by the operator include
removing type from the machine, putting new

“pigs” (blocks) of type metal into the melting pot,
and making adjustments. In shops having a con­
siderable number of linotype machines, however,
a machinist is usually employed who makes all but
the minor adjustments directly connected with
machine operation.
As linotype and intertype machines came into
wider use, the number of operators needed in­
creased. They have made up the second largest
group of composing-room workers for many years,
exceeded in number only by hand compositors.
In 1940, an estimated 60,000 persons were em­
ployed as linotypists and the number is now con­
siderably greater. The largest groups of such
workers are in newspaper and job shops, but they
are also employed in book and periodical houses
and in service shops doing machine typesetting
for printing firms. Some linotype operators have
their own service shops.
Training and Qualifications

Like hand compositors and typesetters, linotype
operators are skilled journeymen. The appren­
ticeship requirements are usually the same as for
hand compositors, except that in the last 6 months
of training the linotypist apprentice receives
specialized training in machine work.


Qualifications needed bv apprentices are much
the same for machine as for hand typesetting. For
machine work, however, artistic ability is less im­
portant than it is for hand work. Machine work,
on the other hand, calls for much more mechanical
skill than does hand work, as the duties of the
different classes of workers involved suggest.
O utlook

The employment outlook for experienced lino­
type (and intertype) operators during the early
fifties is fairly good in the country as a whole.
There will also be some training opportunities,
although not as many as during the first year or
two after World War II when several thousand
newcomers were taken on for training (total of
hand and machine programs). Because of the
large number of young men who will be going into
the Armed Forces, the number of job seekers will
be somewhat smaller. Top-skilled men, with ex­
perience in hand as well as machine compo­
sition, and with supervisory and managerial
abilities, will find some immediate openings in
salaried positions or will have good chances for
advancement to such jobs. Some ex-servicemen
and others wishing to go into business for them­
selves may find favorable opportunities to do so;
those with good all-round civilian experience will
have the best chances of success.
The long-range outlook, too, is reasonably favor­
able—more so than for hand compositors, for ex­
ample. Employment has tended to rise over the
years and should continue to do so for some time.
Eventually, however, technological and other fac-


Lin o typ e operator at the keyboard of a linotype m achine.

tors may lead to a stable or even a declining trend
in employment. On the other hand, printing is
less affected by declines in general business activity
than many other manufacturing industries.
E a rn in g s and U n io niza tio n

Linotype operators tend to have much the same
rates of pay as hand compositors. (See p. 311.)
A large proportion, if not the great majority, of
linotypists are represented by the International
Typographical Union (AFL).

Monotype Keyboard Operators
(D. O. T. 4-44.120)

O utlook S u m m a ry

Enough jobs likely for all qualified journeymen
in this small occupation during the early fifties;
also a limited number of openings for apprentices.
Long-range trend of employment upward.
N a tu re o f W o rk

An important step forward in typesetting was
the invention of the monotype keyboard and mon­

otype casting machines. In contrast to the solid
lines cast in linotyping, these later machines make
possible the automatic casting of individual let­
ters and other type characters, and also the auto­
matic assembling of type into the long shallow
trays, known as galleys (see p. 309). Monotyping
thus retains some of the flexibility of hand compo­
sition, while offering advantages of machine oper­


The monotype keyboard is similar to a type­
writer keyboard, but has some 200 keys. Unlike
the linotype, which does the whole typesetting job,
the monotype keyboard machine only perforates a
narrow roll of paper for use later in a separate
casting machine.
The workers who operate the keyboard and
make the many different adjustments needed are
called monotype keyboard operators (sometimes
simply monotype operators.) They are a small
occupational group with only about 6*000 em­
ployed in 1940. The number in mid-1950 was
probably no more than half again as great. Most
monotypists work for book or periodical houses;
some few, for job and service shops.
In general, qualifications for employment are the
same as for linotype operators.

In few, if any, parts of the country where monotype operators a r| employed will qualified jour­
neymen have any difficulty finding jobs within
the 1950 decade—especially if general business
conditions remain favorable. In addition, em­
ployers will have an increasing number of open­
ings for apprentices as the number of craftsmen

grows. The actual number of training oppor­
tunities will not be large, however, because total
employment in the occupation will remain small.
The long-range trend in employment in the field
is upward. Men already in the trade and those
who enter it in the near future should have a good
chance of holding their jobs indefinitely. Those
who are adept in hand composition and in linotyp­
ing as well as in monotype keyboard operation are
likely to have the greatest job security.
Big printing centers will generally offer the
most job openings, but also the keenest competi­
tion for employment. In the long run, more and
more jobs are likely to be found in smaller cities,
to which book and job plants have been moving
gradually over the years.
Earnings and Unionization

Wage rates for monotype keyboard operators
are generally the same as for linotype operators
and hand compositors in book and j ob shops. (See
table p. 310).
A large proportion, if not the great majority,
of monotype keyboard operators are represented
by the International Typographical Union

Monotype Caster Operators
(D. O. T. 6-49.310)

Outlook Summary

Limited number of openings for new workers in
this small occupation during early fifties. Longrange employment trend upward.
Nature of Work

Workers in this occupation operate the mono­
type casting machines, referred to in the state­
ment on Monotype Keyboard Operators, p. 312.
These machines cast and assemble type automat­
ically, guided by the perforations in the rolls of
paper prepared by the monotype keyboard oper­
ators. Caster operators not only adjust and tend
the machines but usually are required to know the
mechanism in order to make repairs. In shops
having several casting machines, the operator may
supervise unskilled workers who tend the ma­
Taking the printing industry as a whole, only

one caster operator has been employed to every
two or three keyboard operators, as of early 1950.
The occupation is, therefore, very small, employ­
ing only about 2,000 workers in 1940 and prob­
ably not more than three or four thousand in 1949.
The types of plants using caster operators are the
same as for keyboard operators—chiefly book and
periodical houses and, to some extent, job and
service shops.
Qualifications for Employment

Most newcomers to this occupation learn to oper­
ate the machine at a monotype school. Training
is then completed on the job. This experience is
especially needed for the more skilled and better
paying jobs in the occupation, which require an
understanding of the mechanism of the caster and
the ability to make adjustments and repairs. Per­
sons entering the occupation should be physically
strong and in good health.


O utlook

There will be more openings for newcomers dur­
ing the early fifties than there were in the late
thirties—but only a limited number at best, since
the occupation will remain small. As the number
of monotype keyboard machines in use increases,
job prospects for trainee monotype caster opera­
tors will become more favorable. .
Total employment is likely to increase steadily,
although only slightly, over the long run. The
rise will be, however, at a faster rate than in mono­
type keyboard operation. Under fairly normal
general business conditions, experienced workers
should have little difficulty in obtaining jobs, with
good chances for continued employment for many
E a rn in g s a n d U n ionization

Most monotype-caster operators have about the
same wage rates as linotypists, monotype-keyboard
operators, and composing room craftsmen outside
the newspaper industry. (See table, p. 310.)
However, caster operators without responsibility
for adjustments or repairs earn less.


h o to g r a p h


U . S.

d e p a r tm e n t o f

Labo r

M o n otype caster operator a d ju stin g position of n e w ly cast type as it
com es out of the m achine.

A large proportion, if not the great majority, of
operators are represented by the International
Typographical Union (AFL).

(D. O. T. 1-10.07)

O u tlook S u m m a ry

Number of jobs in the early fifties will remain
about the same as in 1949. Slight increase in em­
ployment over the longer run. Most proofread­
ing jobs go to persons already employed in printing
N a ture o f TY ork

These workers guard against error in the final
printed product. For this purpose, it is custom­
ary to make proofs of type set-ups and read these
carefully against the original copy. In small
shops, journeymen typesetters and advanced ap­
prentices may do the proofreading. In most large
plants, however, particularly in the newspaper,
book, and periodical industries, there are special
The work is done in one of two ways. Either
the proofreader puts the proof and the copy side

by side and reads one against the other, a line at
a time, or he has the material read to him by a copy
holder while he follows the proof. Where there
are errors, he notes the corrections needed, using
standard proofreaders’ marks.
Q ualifications fo r E m p lo y m e n t

Workers usually enter the occupation from an­
other composing-room job or a front-office job
with the same company. Skilled compositors and
composing-machine operators who are no longer
able to do typesetting at the speeds required may
take positions as proofreaders. Those who do so,
keep their journeyman status, at least in union
A knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punc­
tuation is very important to help the proofreader
find and correct errors. The work requires good
eyesight and good hearing.


O utlook

Employment of proofreaders in the early fifties
will remain at about the 1949 level. Altogether,
about 5,000 proofreaders were employed in 1940,
including a good many women. The number em­
ployed in mid-1950 is estimated to have been about
20 or 25 percent greater. Most of the job open­
ings arising from turnover will be filled by work­
ers already employed in the printing industries.
There will also be a few openings for men and
women with some outside experience related to
proofreading. Persons completely new to the
field will usually have little, if any, chance for jobs.

The long-range trend in employment will prob­
ably continue to be upward. Those already in the
occupation in early 1950 and those who enter it
soon thereafter should have a good chance of hold­
ing their positions indefinitely.
E a rn in g s and U n io niza tio n

Wage rates for proofreaders in union shops are
generally the same as for hand compositors (see
p. 310). Nonunion shops are likely to pay less,
particularly to women. Some union contracts
provide lower scales for proofreaders who have
never qualified as hand compositors.

Electrotypers and Stereotypers
(D. O. T. 4-45.010 and .210)

O utlook S u m m a ry

A limited number of openings for apprentices
in the early fifties. Long-range trend slowly up­
N a tu re o f W o rk

From the composing room, type forms often go
to the electrotyping or stereotyping department
(or to an independent service shop doing such
work for printing firms). Electrotyping and
stereotyping are two different processes, having
the same purpose—making duplicate press plates
from the type forms. One reason why it may be
necessary to use such plates, instead of printing
directly from the forms, is that a number of plates
made exactly the same may be needed (any num­
ber can be turned out by either electrotyping or
When a large edition of a book or magazine is
printed, several plates must be used one after the
other to prevent the printing surfaces from be­
coming too worn to make clear impressions. By
means of duplicate plates, printers can also use
several presses on the same job, at the same time,
and thus finish a big run quickly. This is espe­
cially important in publishing daily newspapers,
since a plant may have to rush many thousands of
papers onto the streets with news that is no more
than an hour or two old. Furthermore, the rotary
presses used in many big plants require curved

plates (which can be made by either process), and
type forms are always flat.
The usual first step in both processes is the mak­
ing of a mold of the type form. In electrotyping,
wax and plastic molds are the most common, al­
though lead or some other metal is also used. To
make a wax or plastic mold, the electrotyper lays
the type form on the bed of a power molding press,
E le c tro ty p e r placing w ax mold on top of type form w h ich is on bed of
pow er m olding press.

h o to g r a p h


U. S. D e p a r t m

ent of




and covers it with a wax-coated sheet of metal or
with a sheet of plastic. He then applies the pres­
sure and obtains an impression of the type form
in the wax or plastic.
To produce a final metal plate ready for use in
the pressroom, a metallic shell must be deposited
on the mold, stripped from it, backed with metal,
and carefully finished and mounted. First the
electrotyper makes the wax or plastic mold electroconductive, by coating it with copper sulphate or
nickel solution (in the case of a wax mold) or a
thin film of metallic silver (in the case of a plastic
mold). The mold is then suspended in an appro­
priate electrolytic solution, which is used to obtain
a metallic shell deposit on the coated mold. Strip­
ping, backing, finishing, and mounting follow in
The stereotyping process is much simpler, quick­
er, and less expensive than electrotyping, but it
does not yield as fine a plate. Stereotypers make
molds of papier macbe (a strong material com­
posed of paper pulp) instead of wax or lead. This
work involves placing a damp papier mache pad
(in newspaper printing, usually a dry mat) on
top of the type form and running both through a
rolling machine. After the paper mold has been
dried, it is used in casting a composition-lead plate,
which needs only trimming to be ready for the
Journeymen electrotypers and stereotypers must
know how to handle all the tasks involved in their
respective processes, although in practice they are
often assigned to only one phase of the work.
Electrotypers work mainly in large book and
periodical plants, while stereotypers are princi­
pally employed in newspaper plants or in shops
servicing newspaper publishers.

In workrooms where electrotyping or stereotyp­
ing is done, there are frequently fumes and dust,
and the temperature and humidity are often ex­
tremely high. Moreover, the work involves lift­
ing of very heavy plates and type forms. Persons
entering the occupations should be sufficiently
strong and healthy to work under these condi­
tions, although they are being increasingly miti­
gated in large part through scientific air-condi­
tioning, mechanical conveyors, and other means.


Wage rates for electrotypers tend to be higher
than those for any other printing trade, except
photoengravers. Those for stereotypers are fre­
quently lower than for electrotypers.
The average union wage scale for electrotypers
in effect on July 1, 1950, was about $2.70 an hour
in the principal cities in which they are employed
in book and job printing. Bates ranged from
$1.88 an hour, in Syracuse, 17. Y., to almost $3.00
an hour in New York City, and Newark, N. J.

To qualify for either type of work, a 5- or 6-year
apprenticeship is usually required. Training is
quite different for each trade; rarely do journey­
men change from one occupation to the other.
Young men who wish to become electrotyper or
stereotyper apprentices need about the same edu­
cational qualifications as are required for all print­
ing trades. In addition, mechanical training and
courses in chemistry and metallurgy are useful.


Although not much, if any, increase in employ­
ment is expected during the early fifties, journey­
men electrotypers and stereotypers will generally
find it fairly easy to get jobs. Under collective
bargaining agreements, of the type which have
been in effect for many years, a limited number of
training opportunities for newcomers may be ex­
pected in this period—fewer than during the first
year or two after World War II. Some men with
all-round experience and managerial abilities will
be able to go into business for themselves, with fair
chances of success. But these are small occupa­
tions, employing in mid-1950 roughly 10,000 jour­
neymen and probably 1,000 or so apprentices.
The total number of job openings resulting from
the need to replace workers who die or who retire
or leave the occupation for other reasons, will
therefore average no more than a few hundred
each year.
The long-range trend in employment has been
and is likely to continue to be slowly upward in
these occupations. Men already in the trades in
mid-1950 or about to complete their training have
a good chance of holding their jobs indefinitely.
Earnings and Unionization


(See following tabulation.) Almost half the city
scales were $2.85 an hour and up. The highest
scales were found principally in cities with heavy
concentrations of electrotyper jobs. The bulk of
the men covered were earning upward of $2.70 an
Newspaper stereotyper rates ranged from $1.99
an hour, in Duluth, Minn., to $2.81 an hour in
Chicafio, 111. Their average rate of about $2.52
was 17 cents an hour less than that for electro­
typers in book and job work, but probably also
much less than that for the smaller number of
stereotypers in book and job work. Over half the
newspaper stereotypers were on pay scales rang­
ing from $2.30 to $2.55 an hour.
The minimum union wage scales for electro­
typers and stereotypers as of July 1, 1950, for
most of the important printing centers are shown
in the following tabulation.
Stereotypers Electrotypers
(Newspapers) (Book and job)
At,lf\nta Ga lltbll
Baltimore IMd.
Birmingham, Ala Boston, Mass_
Buffalo N. Y
Butte M o n t__ - Charleston, W. Va
Charlotte N . C
Ohattanooera. Tenn
Chicago. Ill
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland. Ohio
Columbus Ohio
Dallas Tex
- Davenport Iowa
Dayton Ohio
Denver Colo
Des Moines, Iowa
Detroit, Mich_
Duluth Minn
FI J C xva
XJ1 Paso j Tex - --- --------—
L itJV
---Fri p Pa,
Grand Rapids, Mich
Houston Tex
Indianapolis, Ind
ville PI a.
Kansas City, Mo
Knoxville Tenn
Little Rock, Ark
K J C v y


w - -----------------------------------------------------------—

— ------------------ - - - -------------

v ± \J y




A i l - — — ------------- - - - -

(T a rV ir sDnvn l V l l l v y y
j O l d V

J - A M I — — — — — — — ------------------

$2. 45
2. 32
2. 25
2. 58
2. 37
2. 38
2. 13
2. 10
2. 29
2. 53-2. 81
2. 48
2. 44
2. 41
2. 45
2. 14
2. 34
2. 36
2. 39
2. 65
1. 99
2. 18
2. 11
2. 34
2. 31
2. 49
2. 39
2. 37
2. 29
2. 18

$2. 45
2. 00
2. 44
2. 30
2. 20

2. 94
2. 38
2. 60
2. 35
2. 44
1. 96
2. 39
2. 32
2. 40
2. 83
2. 40
2. 44
2. 38
2. 37


Los Angeles, Calif
Louisville, Ky
Manchester, N. H
Memphis, Tenn
Miami, Fla
Milwaukee, Wis
Minneapolis, Minn
Mobile, Ala
Moline, 111
Newark, N. J
New Haven, Conn
New Orleans, La
New York, N. Y
Norfolk, Va________________
Oakland, Calif
Oklahoma City, Okla
Omaha, Nebr
Philadelphia, Pa
Phoenix, Ariz
Pittsburgh, Pa
Portland, Maine
Portland, Oreg
Providence, R. I
Reading, Pa
Richmond, Va
Rochester, N. Y
Rock Island (111.) district___
St. Louis, Mo
St. Paul, Minn
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Antonio, Tex
San Francisco, Calif
Savannah, Ga
Scranton, Pa
Seattle, Wash
South Bend, Ind
Spokane, Wash
Springfield, Mass
Syracuse, N. Y
Toledo, Ohio
Washington, D. C
Wichita, Kans
Worcester, Mass
York, Pa
Youngstown, Ohio

$2. 35
2. 41
2. 08
2. 31
2. 52
2. 40
2. 52
2. 19
2. 14
2. 40
2. 10
2. 18
2. 43
2. 28
2. 52
2. 33
2. 25
2. 33
2. 35
2. 37
2. 00
2. 49
2. 36
2. 16
2. 16
2. 32
2. 22
2. 40
2. 38
2. 23
2. 20
2. 52
2. 13
2. 30
2. 71
2. 25
2. 43
2. 00
2. 27
2. 48
2. 30
2. 11
2. 32
2. 00
2. 24

(Book and job)

$2. 69
2. 25
2. 48
2. 64
1. 96
2. 96
2. 33
2. 30
2. 96
2. 64
2. 33
2. 00
2. 77
2. 00
2. 64
2. 30
2. 03
2. 01
2. 35
2. 64
2. 64
2. 18
2. 79
2. 38
1. 88
2. 34
1 2. 56
2. 30
2. 09

1Excludes Government Printing Office.

In both occupations, the proportion of workers
organized—by the International Stereotypers’ and
Electro typers’ Union (AFL)—is extremely high.
This is one of the six major unions of printing



(D. O. T. 4-47.100)

O utlook S u m m a ry

The very few employment opportunities for
newcomers expected each year will result largely
from replacement needs. Long-run trend in em­
ployment has been very slowly upward, but may
level off in the early fifties, or possibly decline
N a tu re o f W o rk

Photoengravers enter into the printing process
when copy to be reproduced by letterpress includes
pictures or designs. The photoengraving depart­
ment supplies the composing room with any
needed plates of illustrations and other material
that cannot be set up in type. On these plates,
the printing surfaces stand out in relief above the
nonprinting spaces, as do the letters on the accom­
panying type.
Photoengravers are skilled journeymen, able to
handle all the operations involved in the process.
The entire job of producing a plate (photoengrav­
ing) may be done by one man, or the work may
be divided among a number of photoengravers
and the men then referred to as photographers,
printers, etchers, finishers, routers, blockers, or
provers, depending on the particular phase of
work handled. The latter arrangement is fre­
quently found in large shops; it is the method more
commonly used.
A camera-man starts the process by photograph­
ing the material to be reproduced (using the nec­
essary screens or color filters) and developing the
negative. Making a print from the negative on a
metal plate coated with sensitized solution is the
job of a p rin ter. A coating placed over the image
areas of the plate hardens by exposure to light
during the printing process or as a result of fur­
ther chemical treatment and protects these areas
against the acid into which the plate is put by an
etcher , whose job is to “cut” away the background
areas by means of this acid, leaving the image
standing out in relief. After that, a few more
operations remain—including finishing (careful
inspection and touching up with hand tools),
routing (cutting away metal from the nonprinting

parts of the plate to prevent them from touching
the inking roller during printing), blocking
(mounting the engraving on a wooden block to
make it the right height), and proving (printing
a sample copy on a proof press).
Upwards of eleven or twelve thousand men were
engaged as journeymen photoengravers in early
1950. They are most numerous in service shops
where the main business is making photoengrav­
ings for use bv others; many craftsmen have their
own shops. Newspaper plants, book and periodi­
cal houses, the United States Government Plant­
ing Office, and the United States Bureau of En­
graving and Printing also employ, together, a
considerable number of such photoengravers.
Q ualifications fo r E m p lo y m en t

A 6-year apprenticeship is generally required to
become a journeyman. The training covers all
phases of the process and includes 864 hours of
classroom instruction. At least some of the skills
acquired are readily adaptable to one or two phases
of the lithographic process (see p. 325). In early
1950, the bulk of apprentices were registered with
the union only, this figure then being close to 3,000.
Since photoengravers’ duties involve constant
P h oto en g ra ver (ro u te r) c u ttin g av/ay metal from n on p rin tin g areas of a

h o to g r a p h


U . S.

d e p a r tm e n t of



close work, good eyesight is essential in this occu­
pation. Because of the work with acids and other
chemicals which give off fumes, the occupation is
not a good one for people with respiratory dis­
abilities. Many employers require physical ex­
aminations for prospective photoengravers, test­
ing both eyes and lungs. Courses which
photoengravers will find helpful in addition to
those indicated as desirable for all printing work­
ers (see p. 305) include chemistry and metallurgy.
Earnings and Unionization

Photoengravers are among the highest paid
printing craftsmen. In both book and job and
newspaper work the average minimum union wage
scale in the 77 cities covered was $2.84 an hour on
July 1, 1950. The top rates in each case were
($3.14 and $2.92 respectively). The lowest scale
was $2.13 for book and job photoengravers. Over
half the photoengravers earned more than $2.70
an hour.
Union minimum wage scales for photoengravers
as of July 1, 1950 in most of the important print­
ing centers, are shown in the following tabulation:

$2. 61
Atlanta, Ga
2. 68
Baltimore, Md
2. 45
Birmingham, Ala_ _ _
2. 70
Boston, Mass
2. 73
Buffalo, N. Y
Charlotte, N. C
2. 13
Chattanooga, Tenn
2. 92
Chicago, 111
2. 75
Cincinnati, Ohio
2. 76-2. 81
Cleveland, Ohio _
2. 84
Columbus Ohio
Dallas, Tex
Davenport Iowa
2. 48
Dayton, Ohio _ _
2. 57
Denver, Colo
2. 48
Des Moines, Iowa
2. 75-2. 89
Detroit, Mich
2. 32
Duluth, Minn__
(Trn.nH R tn /niidl us j Mx ii oh --- ---— —
2. 67
V JI 1 CllllU. X w p v
if v u
2. 59
Houston, Tex
2. 65
Indianapolis, Ind2. 39
Jacksonville, Fla _ _
2. 68
Kansas City, Mo
2. 13
Knoxville, Tenn
2. 64
Los Angeles, Calif
2. 65
Louisville, Ky
Manchester N. H
2. 60
Menrnhis. Tenn__

Book and job

$2. 56
2. 45-2. 67
2. 45
2. 45
2. 47
3. 00-3. 06
2. 53
2. 67-2. 86
2. 31-2. 53
2. 25
2. 18
2. 53
2. 35
2. 48
2. 67-2. 80
2. 13
2. 58
2. 53
2. 20
2. 40
2. 20
2. 67
2. 15-2. 53
2. 40
2. 44


Miami, Fla
Milwaukee, Wis
Minneapolis, Minn
Moline, 111__
Newark, N. J
New Haven, Conn
New Orleans, La
New York, N. Y ___________
Norfolk, Ya _ _
Oakland, Calif
Oklahoma City, Okla
Omaha, Nebr
Peoria, 111
Philadelphia, Pa
Pittsburgh, Pa
Portland, Maine
Portland, Oreg
Providence, R. I
Richmond, Va
Rochester, N. Y
Rock Island (111.) district___
St. Louis, Mo
St. Paul, Minn
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Antonio, Tex
San Francisco, Calif _
Scranton, Pa _
Seattle, WashSouth Bend, Ind
Springfield, Mass
Syracuse, N. Y
Toledo, Ohio__
Washington, D. C
Wichita, Kans
_ __
Worcester, Mass __ _
Youngstown, Ohio__

$2. 71
2. 68
2. 56
2. 23
2. 92
2. 23
2. 71
2. 59
2. 48
2. 48
2. 75
2. 71
2. 14
2. 62
2. 68
2. 38
2. 80
2. 26
2. 71
2. 67
2. 40
2. 47
2. 71
2. 88
2. 77
2. 27
2. 67
2. 79
2. 77
2. 45-2. 58
2. 51
2. 40

Book and job

$2. 40
2. 66
2. 53
2. 18
3. 06
2. 27
2. 13
3. C6-3. 14
2. 13
2. 67
2. 13
2. 45
2. 27
2. 76
2. 58
2. 67
2. 45
2. 13
2. 55
2. 27
2. 45
2. 73
2. 40
2. 47
2. 80
2. 13
2. 79
2. 40
2. 27
2. 23
*2. 59
2. 45
2. 27
2. 40

•Government Printing Office: $2.63.

Photoengravers are almost completely organ­
ized by the International Photo-Engravers’ Union
of North America (AFL), one of the six major
unions of printing workers.

Employment of photoengravers rose substan­
tially during 1945, 1946, and 1947, but leveled off
in 1948 and 1949. In the next several years and
also over the longer run, replacement needs rather
than expansion will provide the bulk of job
In 1939, journeymen photoengravers numbered
about 10,000, but many were unemployed. There
was, on the average, 1 apprentice to every 10 or


12 employed craftsmen, the ratio varying from
area to area and from shop to shop; some shops
offered no training opportunities of any kind.
During World War II, a shortage of skilled
workers, trainees, and trainee replacements de­
veloped, primarily because of workers going into
the Armed Forces and transferring to war indus­
tries. In the immediate postwar years, employers,
in order to make up for the labor shortage, meet
normal replacement needs, and handle the increas­
ing demand for photoengraving, hired virtually all
qualified journeymen who were available and took
on many more trainees than usual. Generally, it
was still not difficult for craftsmen to obtain jobs

during 1948 and 1949, although apprenticeship
opportunities in particular had become con­
siderably fewer than in the immediate postwar
In the early fifties and thereafter, the number
of openings for trainees is not likely to exceed two
or three hundred in any one year. Some very few
persons may find favorable opportunities to go into
business for themselves; generally, those with good
all-round experience in the field will have the best
chances of success. The over-all outlook appears
to be for fairly stable employment during the
fifties although the number of jobs may possibly
decline slightly.

Rotogravure Photoengravers
(D. O. T. 4-47.100)

Outlook Summary

Expanding field, but likely to remain small for
many years. As a result, there will be at most
only a few job opportunities for trainees each year.
Nature of Work

Rotogravure photoengravers, like photoengrav­
ers (p. 318) and lithographic process workers (p.
325), make plates for use in reproducing pictures,
but these are gravure plates with the image etched,
below the surface. The printing has to be done on
special rotogravure presses, and often the entire
process, from preparation of the plates through
printing, is carried out in separate plants special­
izing in this kind of work.
Rotogravure photoengravers are a very highly
skilled group. Like regular photoengravers, they
are required to know all phases of the photoen­
graving process, more particularly, the rotogra­
vure process, although they usually specialize in
one of them. The operations which they handle
are much like those involved in photoengraving,
except that a positive (instead of a negative) is
used in making the plate, and it is the image
(rather than the background) areas which are
etched away.
A few large newspaper and commercial plants
have departments which reproduce pictures by
this method. However, rotogravure men are em­
ployed mainly in independent rotogravure plants.
Most of them work for a small number (perhaps

a dozen or so) big firms which handle a large pro­
portion of all rotogravure work.
Qualifications for Employment

It is possible to enter the occupation either by a
6-year apprenticeship in a rotogravure shop or by
transferring from photoengraving. Photoen­
gravers are usually required to complete a proba­
tionary training period before being classified as
skilled rotogravure men. The qualifications
needed by apprentices are the same for rotogra­
vure work as for photoengraving. A number of
the nearly 3,000 young people reported to be in
training under registered “photoengraving” ap­
prenticeship programs in early 1950 are actually
preparing for rotogravure jobs. (See p. 318).
Rotogravure is a relatively new process, which
was being used increasingly before World War II
and has made rapid gains since the war’s end. In
the entire country, however, there were fewer
than 2,000 journeymen employed in rotogravure
work in mid-1950. Young men seeking apprentice­
ship opportunities have always had difficulty
breaking into rotogravure photoengraving.
During World War II, the amount of rotograv­
ure printing was somewhat reduced, and a large
proportion of the journeymen and apprentices
either went into the armed services or transferred
to photoengraving. However, the postwar return
to prewar output of rotogravure was rapid. The
prewar level of activity was soon surpassed, and


expansion has continued steadily through early
1950, especially in the magazine publishing field.
But the need for additional personnel and replace­
ments since the war’s end has been met in
large part by the return of craftsmen to the trade
and the transfer of letterpress photoengravers to
rotogravure. Since the occupation is expected to
go on expanding for an indefinite period, there
should be increasing opportunities for newcomers
in the years ahead, although only a small number
of openings in any one year.

Earnings and Unionization

Rotogravure men are among the best paid print­
ing craftsmen. Generally, their wage scales are
above even the comparatively high rates for pho­
toengravers doing letterpress work. Bates shown
for photoengravers in the table on page 319 in­
clude those for rotogravure photoengravers.
Rotogravure photoengravers, like regular pho­
toengravers, are practically all represented by the
International Photo-Engravers’ Union (AFL).

Printing Pressmen and Assistants (Letterpress and Gravure)
(D. O. T. 4-48.010; .020, .030, and .060; 6-49.410, .420, and .430)

adjustments—for example, those controlling mar­
gins and the flow of ink to the inking roller. In
Fairly strong demand for journeymen pressmen
shops, they are
in early fifties. Opportunities more limited for somethe presses but responsible not only for tend­
also for oiling and cleaning
apprentices and press assistants during this period. them and making at least minor repairs. In many
Long-range outlook also generally favorable for cases they have assistants whose work they super­
pressmen, but probably not for assistants.
Pressmen’s work may vary greatly from one type
Nature of Work
of shop to another, because of differences in the
Type forms from composing rooms, press plates kinds and sizes of presses used and for other rea­
from electrotyping and stereotyping departments, sons. Small commercial shops, many of which
and rotogravure and lithographic plates all go to are owned and run by pressmen themselves in part­
a pressroom for use in printing. In small shops,* nership with compositors, generally have small and
this department may consist of only one or two relatively simple platen (or job) presses that are
small presses in a back room or a corner of the often fed paper by hand.
shop. In big plants, however, pressrooms are large.
At the other extreme are the big newspaper
Many workers and, frequently, huge presses are plants with their tremendous web-rotary presses.
employed. These machines may be so heavy and These giant presses are fed paper in big rolls (or
create so much vibration that the department has webs). They print the paper on both sides by
to be located on the ground floor or in the basement. means of a series of cylinders; cut the pages and
assemble and fold them; and, finally, count the
P ressmen . (D. O. T. 48.010, .020, .303 and .060). finished newspaper sections which emerge from
Skilled pressmen are the key workers in the de­
partment. Their basic duties are to “make-ready” the press ready for the mailing room. Thesemany
are accomplished automatically by means
and then tend the presses while in operation. The different mechanisms, each of which callsoffor re­
object of the make-ready, which is one of the most peated attention while a run is being made.
delicate and difficult parts of the work, is to insure Presses of the kind described above are therefore
printing impressions that are distinct and even,
and neither too dark nor too light. This is ac­ operated by crews of journeymen and less-skilled
complished by such means as placing pieces of workers directed by a pressman-in-charge.
Other types of presses on which men specialize
paper of exactly the right thickness underneath
are those used in offset printing (see p. 325), and
low areas of the press plate or type form to level it,
and attaching pieces of tissue paper to the surface the rotogravure press, a rotary press with a “doc­
of the cylinder or flat platen which makes the im­ tor” blade which scrapes the surplus ink off the
pression. Pressmen also have to make many other surface of the plate.
Outlook Summary




Pressm an using paper to level plate.

P ress A ssistants. (D. O. T. 6-49.410, .420,
and .430). The duties of press assistants range
from merely feeding sheets of paper into hand-fed
presses to helping pressmen make ready and op­
erate large and complicated rotary presses. Work­
ers whose main responsibility is feeding are often
referred to simply as feeders.
Helping in web-rotary work in newspaper plants
are men commonly known as flyboys. They pick
up the newspapers as they come off the press and
load them onto hand trucks; they also wheel the
trucks out of the pressroom and do other work.
The ratio of assistants to pressmen varies greatly
from one establishment to another, depending on
size of the plant, type of press used, and other
factors. Many shops are too small to have any
pressroom helpers.


h o to g r a p h


U. S. D e p a r t m

ent of

labo r

Press is a sm all flatbed c y lin d e r press fo r letterpress p rin tin g.

Q ualifications

To become a skilled pressman requires 3 to 5
years of apprenticeship in most instances; in
newspaper work, almost always 5 years. Usually,
men receive training in only one type of press, and
opinion differs as to how readily journeymen can
become skilled on other types of presses. The
length of the apprenticeship and the content of
the training depend largely on the kind of press
Individual companies choose apprentices gen­
erally from among press assistants and others al­
ready employed in the company. Thus, an ap­
prentice often has worked for 2 or 3 years in the
pressroom before starting the 3- to 5-year training
period leading to journeyman status. To be se­


lected for training, one must have completed at
least the eighth grade in school; some employers
require high-school graduation. Since pressmen
often have to blend their own inks, a knowledge
of color is necessary. Art courses are therefore
very helpful.
Physical strength and endurance are necessary
for work on some kinds of presses, where the press­
man has to lift heavy type forms and press plates
and be on his feet all day. Mechanical aptitude
is also important in making press adjustments and
P ressm en . During the early fifties, employment
is not likely to change much from the 1948-49
levels. Vacancies arising as a result of deaths, re­
tirements, promotions, and other causes will aver­
age around a thousand each year, providing ap­
prenticeship openings for many non journeymen
already employed in pressrooms or other depart­
ments of printing firms and even some outsiders.
In mid-1950, there were more than 5,000 pressmen
apprentices and about 40,000 journeymen. Press­
men made up the third largest group of printing
craftsmen in 1940, and probably still held this
position 10 years later.
Over the long run, a gradual growth of employ­
ment can be expected, although technological de­
velopments may limit this expansion. The effect
of technical and other changes which tend to re­
duce labor requirements is likely to be at least
partially offset by increasing demands for print­
ing and the continued shortening of the workweek.
P ress A ssistants . With an average of one helper
to about every three journeymen, no more than a
few hundred newcomers may expect to find em­
ployment during any one year of the early fifties
or the years immediately following. Before
World War II, the printing industries tended not
to fill all of the vacancies created through normal

losses of assistants. A resumption of this practice
is likely and perhaps has already started. Declin­
ing employment may once more mark the occupa­
tion, at least as a long-run tendency. But lay-offs
of journeymen will occur only in exceptional
Earnings and Unionization

Wage rates of pressmen vary with the make and
style of press operated, as well as with the type of
printing plant and other factors. They tend to
be the highest in the newspaper industry (see fol­
lowing tabulation).
A range of $1.10 to about $3 an hour for day
work is indicated for the four skilled groups cov­
ered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics taken to­
gether: Newspaper pressmen-in-charge and jour­
neymen pressmen and book and job cylinder press­
men and platen pressmen. (In the Bureau of La­
bor Statistics data, the so-called “cylinder press­
men” group includes also other non-platen press­
men.) Hourly rates for book and job press assist­
ants and feeders ranged from about 90 cents in
Portland, Maine, to approximately $2.55 for some
workers in Chicago.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of union
wage scales in 77 cities as of July 1, 1950 showed
that the average hourly rate for newspaper press­
men-in-charge was $2.74; for newspaper journey­
men, $2.55; for book and job cylinder pressmen,
$2.40; for book and job platen pressmen, $2.12;
for book and job press assistants and feeders, $1.94.
The July 1950 minimum union hourly wage
scales (day work) for most of the important print­
ing centers in the selected pressroom occupations
listed are shown in the following table.
Pressroom workers are usually covered by union
agreements. Practically all the letterpress and
rotogravure pressmen and assistants who are or­
ganized belong to the International Printing
Pressmen’s and Assistants’ Union of North Amer­
ica (AFL).


T a b l e 1.— U n io n w age scales in im p o rta n t p rin tin g centers in selected p ressro om o ccu p a tio n s , J u ly 1 , 1 95 0

Book and job shops

Journeymen press­ Pressmen-in-charge Cylinder pressmen Platen pressmen
Atlanta, Ga________ _____ _________ ____ _________
Baltimore, M d___________________________________
Birmingham, Ala_— _____________________________
Boston, Mass_____ ____ _ _______________ ______
Buffalo, N. Y ____________________________________
Butte, Mont __________ ____ __________ _________
Charleston, W. Va__________ .. _ _ ___ ___ __
Charlotte, N. C_________ ___________ _
_ __
Chattanooga, Tenn____ _________ _______________
Chicago, 111--_____________________ ___
Cincinnati, Ohio _____________ _________________
Cleveland, Ohio_____ ________ _____ ________
Columbus, Ohio____ __ _________________________
Dallas, Tex_______________________________________
Davenport, Iowa________ _______________________
Dayton, Ohio ________________________________
Denver, Colo_________ __ _ __ ___________ _____
Des Moines, Iowa_________________ ______________
Detroit, Mich____________________________________
Duluth, Minn____ ____________ _______ ________
El Paso, Tex____________________ ____ __________
Erie, P a ___________ ____ _ __ ________________
Grand Rapids, Mich_______ _____________________
Houston, Tex. ___________ ______________________
Indianapolis, Ind_________________________________
Jacksonville, Fla ____________________________
Kansas City, Mo _ _ _ ______ ____ __________ ____
Knoxville, Tenn_________________ ______________
Little Rock, Ark
_ _ _ _ _ _____ _ _
Los Angeles, Calif__ _______________________ _____
Louisville, K y________________________ __ _______
Manchester, N. H ____ __________ ______________
Memphis, Tenn _ _____ _____________ __ ________
Miami, Fla_____________ ___________ ____________
Milwaukee, Wis________ _ _______ __ ________
Minneapolis, Minn____ ___ _________ ___________
Mobile, Ala__ _ _ __________________ ______ ___
Moline, 111______________ ______________________
Newark, N. J______ __ __ ____________________ ___
New Haven, Conn___ __________________________
New Orleans, La_______________________ ________
New York, N. Y _________________________________
Norfolk, Va _____'___ ________________________
Oakland, Calif____________________________________
Oklahoma City, Okla _ _ _ __ _____ ________ _
Omaha, Nebr___ ____ ____ _____________________ _
Peoria, 111____________ ______________ _____ ____
Philadelphia, Pa _______________________________
Phoenix, Ariz - _ _ _ _ _ __________________ __ _
Pittsburgh, Pa___________________ _ _ ________
Portland, Maine _______ _________ __ _ _ _
Portland, O reg... ______ _ ______ _______ ______
Providence, R. I__ ________________ _____________
Reading, Pa.. ______________ __ _______________
Richmond, Va_ - ____________ __________ ______
Rochester, N. Y_______________ ______________
Rock Island, I B ____ _____ ________ ___ __ ________
St. Louis, M o . . . ____ __ ________ ______________
St. Paul, Minn___ _ _____ __________ ________ ___
Salt Lake City, U ta h ...___ _______ ___ ________
San Antonio, Tex___ ___ _ ._ _________________
San Francisco, Calif_______ __ __ ___ __ ________
Savannah, Ga__________ ____ _ __ __ ________
Scranton, Pa _____ _ _ ______ ___-_ _________
Seattle, Wash, ______________ _________________
South Bend, Ind___________________________ *____
Spokane, Wash___________________________________
Springfield, Mass _____________________________
Syracuse, N. Y _________________ ___ __ _________
Toledo, Ohio_____________________________________
Washington, D. C___________________ __ _________
Wichita, Kans_____________________ ____________
Worcester, Mass___________ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ __
York, Pa
-_ _ _____ __ _
Youngstown, Ohio ------ -----------------------------------1 Pressmen, first, $1.88 ; pressmen, second, $1.81.
2 Excludes Government Printing Office.


2. 41
2. 31
2.40-2. 50
2. 52
2.61-2. 76
2. 28
2. 53
2. 41
2.27-2. 47
2. 42
2. 41
2. 53
2. 26
2. 41
2. 21
2.38-2. 47
2. 42

2. 57
2. 53
2. 31
2. 59
2. 52
2. 27
2. 56
2. 72
2. 55
2. 78
2. 54
2. 49
2. 41
2. 55
2. 59
2. 64
2. 36
2. 67
2. 45-2. 75
2. 62
2. 04
2. 26

2.08-2. 30
2.07-2. 24
2.23-2. 47
1. 76-2. 46
2.35-2. 49
1. 25-1. 87
2.25-2. 40
2.55-2. 63
1.61-2. 45
1. 70-2. 59
1. 25-1.87
1.88-2. 37
2.45-2. 81
2.27-2. 70
2. 35
2.40-2. 57
2. 51
1.86-2. 50
1. 91-2. 76
0) 1.9Q-2.33
1.97-2. 63
2. 71
2 2.28-2. 74
2. 07-2.12

1.50-1. 59
2.21-2. 31
1. 70
2. 37
1.43-1. 51
2.18-2. 22
1.52-2. 43
1. 50-1. 59
2.25-2. 53
1. 75-2.05
2. 31
2. 44
1.22-1. 50
1. 91-2.16
1.75-2. 41
1. 55
2. 50
2. 03
1. 94-1.99
2 2.06-2.19
2. 07
2 .00

Press assistants
and feeders
. 97-1.38
i. 82-2. 54
1.35-1. 75
1. 21-2.11
1. 50-1.88
.98-1 18
1.78-2! 14
. 90-1.35
1. 24-1. 70
1.49-2. 22
1. 50-1.84
1.17-1. 54
l! 65
1. 63-1. 88
1.60-2. 20
1 70
1. 41-2. 08
1.45-1. 91
1.29-1. 72
i. 15-1. 40
1.65-2. 08
1. 48-1.87
1. 79-2.15
1 43
1. 79
1.43-1. 80
1 80-1 oO
x« O ±. 8^
. 90-1. 41


Lithographic (Offset) Occupations
(D. O. T. 4-46, 4-48.050, .070)

Outlook Summary

Better chances for newcomers in early fifties
than in other printing fields. Long run upward
trend in employment, but number of jobs will re­
main relatively small.
Nature of Work

The main groups of lithographic workers are
cameramen, artists and letterers, platemakers, and
pressmen and assistants.
C am eramen . (D. O. T. 4-46.200).—Cameramen
who photograph the copy to be printed are highly
skilled workers. As a group, they do several dif­
ferent kinds of photography, developing, and re­
lated work in black and white or color; the photo­
graphing of drawings or photographs, as well as
taking original shots; developing glass plates on
negative paper or film. The individual camera­
man nearly always specializes in one type of pho­
A rtists and L etterers (D. O. T. 4-46.700).—
After negatives have been made and developed,
they frequently have to be retouched, to lighten or
intensify certain parts. This is done by hand, with
chemicals and dyes, and is one of the many highly
skilled operations handled by craftsmen in the art
department. Artists may have to correct colors
in the final press plates. They also draw posters
or other pictures on stone or metal plates or on
special paper, on the comparatively rare occasions
when hand methods are used in place of photo­
lithography. Lettering is usually done by hand.
To be journeymen, artists have to be adept either
in one or more of the various retouching methods
or in hand drawing with lithographic crayon.
Like cameramen, they are customarily assigned to
one phase of the work and may then be known, for
example, as dot etchers (who do a highly special­
ized type of retouching), retouchers, crayon art­
ists, or letterers, depending on the particular job.
P latemakers . (D. O. T. 4^46.300 through
.600).—In photolithography, negatives and posi­
tives (made by cameramen and corrected by art­

ists) are transferred onto press plates by workers
in the platemaking (chemical or processing) de­
partment. First, a plateman places a metal plate
with a light sensitive coating in a vacuum frame
or photocomposing machine; puts a photographic
negative (or, sometimes, a positive) on top of it;
and makes an exposure under an arc lamp. The
plate is then developed and chemically treated so
as to make the nonimage areas repellent to grease
when damp, while leaving the image areas re­
ceptive to it.
The foregoing indicates only a few of the main
steps in this highly complicated and technical
process. Platemakers in small shops often per­
form all the different operations. Those in large
shops, however, are likely to be more specialized;
they may, for example, operate only a vacuum
frame or a photocomposing machine. Besides
platemakers using these photo-mechanical meth­
ods, there are some who do hand transferring—
although this latter process has been largely dis­
placed by photomechanical platemaking.
P ressmen and A ssistants (D. O. T. 4-48.070 and
6-49.410).—Although the basic duties of litho­
graphic (offset) pressmen and assistants are simi­
lar to those of letterpress and gravure men (see
p. 321), there are many differences. These varia­
tions arise at least in part from the specialized
character of lithographic presses.
An offset press has three, rather than two, cylin­
ders. The first carries the curved plate; the sec­
ond, a rubber blanket; and the third, the paper (or
other material) on which an impression is to be
made. The plate does not print directly onto the
paper; instead, it transfers the impression to the
rubber blanket around the second cylinder which
then offsets the image onto the paper. Another
special feature is the dampening rollers which pass
over the plate before each inking, to prevent the
greasy ink from adhering to the nonprinting areas
of the plate. Both these features create extra
complications for the pressman. In printing by
this method much less pressure is needed than in
relief and gravure printing, and unusually deli­
cate and skillful adjustments by the pressman are
required to attain exactly the right pressure.


A few pressmen specialize in operating direct
lithographic presses. When these presses are
used, impressions are made on paper or other
printing surfaces directly from the plate (stone)
instead of by a blanketed middle cylinder.
Training and Qualifications

A large proportion of offset workers are skilled.
To become an all-round craftsman generally re­
quires a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship covering the
basic techniques of the process. The main em­
phasis of the training is on the operations related
to the specific occupation in which journeyman
status is being sought.
Beginners are usually hired as helpers (or as­
sistants) and promoted to apprentices after a year
or two, if they show promise and there are open­
ings. Besides on-the-job training, many plants
have supplementary courses for their workers.
Courses are offered also in vocational schools. Al­
though the skill requirements for lithographic
work are often similar to those in other printing
methods, opinions differ as to how readily journey­
men can transfer from jobs in this field to the
more or less comparable activities in letterpress
and gravure printing.
A high school education is needed for most jobs.
Work in the art, engraving, and camera depart­
ments calls for natural drawing ability and an eye
for color and design, as well as technical ability.
Since pressmen often must blend their own inks,
they too should have a knowledge of color. In
platemaking, manual dexterity and an interest in
chemistry are more important. Many types of
physical handicaps are not bars to employment in
offset jobs.

There will be openings for a limited number of
trainees in lithographic work during the early
fifties. Employment is expected to rise moder­
ately, but the offset field will remain relatively
small in comparison with letterpress printing.
Platemakers make up the largest occupational
group in offset work (over 5,000 were employed in
mid-1950), and there will be more openings in
platemaking than in any other offset job.
The longer run employment prospects in lithog­
raphy are also generally favorable. Any kind of
printing job that can be done by letterpress or

gravure can be done also by lithography. Practi­
cal considerations determine which method is used.
Lithography has special advantages when the copy
to be reproduced includes photographs, drawings,
or paintings, and particularly when these are in
color. Recent improvements affecting the life of
plates and the speed of presses have been enabling
the process to gain headway in the important mass
magazine field. But even before these latest de­
velopments, offset was a rapidly expanding
graphic art, perhaps the fastest-growing repro­
duction method. Employment gains will occur
not only in plants specializing in lithographic
work, but also in the growing number of letterpress establishments setting up offset departments.
Such combination plants are playing an increas­
ingly important role in the printing industries.
There will be opportunities for a few men to
open their own shops. The initial investment is
greater than in letterpress printing, and the
chances for success are likely to be best in localities
which do not already have well-established litho­
graphic businesses.
For many years, New York, Chicago, and San
Francisco have been the principal lithographic
centers, accounting for perhaps half or more
of all offset jobs in the country. Excessive
humidity or dryness and other factors have re­
tarded offset progress in some parts of the country.
Jobs will become more and more widespread, how­
ever, in future years. Offset work has had an es­
pecially rapid growth in recent years in some of
the large western cities.
Earnings and Unionization

A large proportion, if not a majority, of litho­
graphic craftsmen and operatives belong to the
Amalgamated Lithographers of America (CIO),
the only printing union organized on an industrial
basis. All or almost all of the occupations in­
volved are well represented. A small number of
offset pressmen and assistants are in the AFL’s In­
ternational Printing Pressmen’s and Assistants’
Union, and their wage scales (see p. 324) have been
included with those of other nonplaten pressmen
and helpers in the separate statements on letterpress and gravure pressmen and assistants.
Union wage scales under the agreements of the
Amalgamated Lithographers of America are not
included in the regular annual surveys of the

T able 2.— U n io n h ou rly w age scales in lith og rap h ic o ccu pation s in selected c itie s , D ec. 15, 1949
Ashland, Ohio__ _ __
__ _____
Atlanta, Ga_ _ _ ___ _ ___ ____ ____ __ __
Bennington, Vt__________. . . . _______... ___ _ _
Boise, Idaho_______ ____ ____ ____________ _ _ ___
Boston, M ass____________ ___________ _
Buffalo, N. Y_____________________________________
Chicago, 111_______________________________________
Cincinnati, Ohio ________________________________
Cleveland, O hio...___________________________ ____
Dayton, Ohio _______________ ______________ _
Denver, Colo___________________ _______________
Des Moines, Iowa_________ __ ___ _______
Detroit, Mich _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _____ _
Evansville, Ind
Indianapolis, Ind
__ _ . _ _________
Kansas City, M o... _____ _ _ _ _ _ ______
Los Angeles, Calif______ _ _
__ _ ___ ___ _
Louisville, Ky ___ __ ___ _ _ _ _ ___ _ ___ __ _ _
Milwaukee, Wis ___ _ ___ __ _ _ _____ _ _____
Minneapolis, M inn._______ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _
New York, N. Y _________________________________
Oklahoma City, Okla ____________ ___ ________
Philadelphia, Pa ________________________________
Pittsburgh, Pa___ ___________ ___________________
Portland, Oreg_____________________ ____________
Poughkeepsie, N c Y____ ________________________
Providence, R. I_______ ________ _______________
Racine, Wis__ ________ _ _ ._ ___ ___ _ _ __ _
Rochester, N. Y_ _________ ___ ___ ______________
Salt Lake City, Utah___ _____ __________________
San Francisco, Calif __ _ _ _ _ _ ______ ____
Schenectady, N. Y ________________ ______________
Seattle, Wash __________ _______________________
St. Louis, M o_________ _________________________
St. Paul, Minn_____ _____________________________
Syracuse, N. Y ________ ___________________________
Toledo, Ohio________ __ _____
_ _ _____ _
Wilmington, Del___ _ __ _ . ___ _______ _____

$2. 50
2. 44-2. 71
2.30-2. 56
2.17-2. 49
2.18-2. 48
2. 09
2.40-2. 52
2.44-2. 77
2. 50
2. 62
2. 50
2.48-2. 62
2. 48
2. 20-2. 42
2.44-2. 50
2. 78

Platemakers and
related workers
$1.85-2. 21
2. 25
1.65-2. 31
1.91-2. 27
2.00-2. 51
1.78-2. 25
1.68-2. 25
1.63-2. 22
1. 27-1. 78
2.19-2. 40
1. 55-2.34
.94-1. 71
2.08-2. 75
1.88-2. 50
2.07-2. 48
1. 75-2. 41
1.75-2. 39
2. 08-2.48
2. 39
1.60-2. 30
1.67-2. 28
2. 23-2.44

$1.87-2. 58
2. 25
2.04-2. 55
2.07-2. 63
1.90-2. 52
1.82-2. 22
2. 20-2.48
2. 57-2.68
1. 71-2.02
2. 02-2.64
2. 04-2.65
2. 48-2.62
2. 49-2. 75
2. 50-2. 76
2. 70
2. 32-2.51
2. 28-2.88
1.89-2. 50

1.78-3. 56
1.90-2. 55
1.37-1. 48
2.09-2. 59
1.58-2. 02
1.85-2. 70
2. 22-3. 53
1. 79-2. 25
1. 85-3. 20
2. 01-2.85
2. 35-2. 48
2.13-3. 51
1. 97-3.17
2.10-3. 09
2. 01-2. 39
2. 34-2.95
2. 32-2.83
2.12-2. 43
1. 93-2.91

1. 45
1.49-1. 78
1.66-2. 01
1.62-1. 73
1.37-1. 48
1. 43
1.33-1. 38
1.33-1. 52
1.70-1. 78
1.68-2. 22
1.28-1. 79
1. 49-1.56
1. 54-2.01
1. 21-1. 71
1. 41-1.48
1. 45-1. 87
1. 70-1. 77

♦ Excludes opaquers and spotters.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information on
union wage scales in lithography (shown above)
is based on data for 38 cities compiled by the
National Association of Photo-Lithographers, but
the data are of a similar nature to those of the
At the end of 1949, more than half the city scales
for artists were between $2.40 and $2.70 an hour
(not including opaquers and spotters, whose rates
were much lower). Rates for cameramen fre­
quently ranged below those of skilled artists
shown, but the top-grade cameramen usually made
as much or more than the top-skilled artists.

Nearly all the platemaker and related scales
reported were between $1.60 and $2.50. This range
includes men with varying degrees of skill and
responsibility; the scales of the more highly skilled
men, such as the journeymen discussed in this re­
port, were toward the upper end of the range.
A wide range of scales is indicated also for press­
men. The great majority of the scales reported
for these workers were between $1.90 and $2.60
an hour. Press assistant rates ranged largely
from $1.30 to $1.80. The number and size and
complexity of the presses operated and tended by
journeymen and helpers influence their rates.

(D. O. T. 4-49.010)

Outlook Summary
Job opportunities will continue to become fewer
because of expected employment declines during
the early fifties and also over the longer run.
Nature of Work
Many products are finished when they leave the
pressroom. This is true of a wide variety of items

produced by job shops—business forms, printed
stationery, labels, advertising flyers, etc. News­
papers, except the few that are bound for libraries,
never see a bindery department. Nevertheless,
binderies play a part in the manufacture of many
items besides books. The sewing or stapling of
magazines, pamphlets, or small calendars is con­
sidered a bindery operation.



h o to g r a p h


U. S.

d e p a r tm e n t of


B o o k b in d e r p utting gold le tte rin g on back of book w ith hand tool.

There are several different kinds of binderies,
serving a variety of purposes. Edition and
pamphlet binderies (or bindery departments)
bind the regularly published editions of books and
pamphlets printed in large quantities. Trade
binderies serve a function similar to the service
shops of other branches of the printing industry
discussed on page 302. Job binderies do odd jobs
on order for customers direct or for the trade.
Blankbook binderies bind ledgers and bookkeeping
and accounting volumes. There are also library
binderies (or properly staffed and equipped
specialized departments of job binderies) which
bind and rebind books and other printed materials
for libraries, and do various kinds of related work.
Edition binding—making books in quantity out
of the big, flat sheets of paper that come into a
bindery from the pressroom or from an outside
printer—is by far the most complicated kind of
bindery work. The first step is to fold the printed
sheets, each of which contains many pages, so that
these pages will be in the right order. When so
folded into sections of 16 or 32 pages, the sheets
are known as signatures. The next steps are to
insert any illustrations that have been printed
separately, to assemble the signatures in proper

order, and to sew them together. The resulting
book bodies are shaped in various ways, usually
with power presses and trimming machines, and
fabric strips are glued to the backs to reinforce
them. Sometimes the edges of the pages are
gilded or colored. Covers are glued or pasted
onto the book bodies, after which the books
undergo a variety of finishing operations and, fre­
quently, are wrapped in paper jackets. Machines
are used extensively throughout the process.
Skilled bookbinders seldom handle all these dif­
ferent tasks, although many journeymen have had
training in all of them. In large shops especially,
bookbinders are likely to be assigned to one or a
few operations, most often to the operation of com­
plicated machines.
The majority of journeymen are employed in
shops whose chief business is bookbinding. How­
ever, a good many work in the bindery rooms of
large book, periodical and commercial printing
plants. Some are employed in libraries, where the
work is done mainly by hand and also differs in
other respects from that performed elsewhere.
Q ualifications fo r E m p lo y m e n t

Completion of a 4-year apprenticeship is usually
required of men seeking to qualify as skilled book­
binders. Apprenticeship programs may vary con­
siderably among the different types of shops or
services. Where large quantities of books are
bound on a mass-production (edition) basis, em­
phasis is on the most modern machine methods.
Where tine hand binding is done, the training is
mainly in hand methods, including artistic de­
signing and decorating of leather covers.
O u tlook

During the early fifties, employment of skilled
bookbinders is likely to slip further from the high
immediate postwar levels. Many new bookbinders
were trained between 1946 and 1949—to make up
for the wartime labor shortage, take care of normal
replacement needs, and handle the expanded vol­
ume of bookbinding work. Despite an apparent
decline in employment in the closing year or two
of the forties, the number of jobs in early 1950 was
probably still several thousand above the 1940 total
of less than 25,000. The recent downtrend in em­
ployment is a resumption of the long-run decline
of the occupation which was interrupted by the


war and the immediate postwar boom. Job open­
ings are likely to be relatively few, on the whole,
in the years to come.
Earnings and Unionization

Wage scales in this occupation tend to be below
the general average of the skilled printing trades.
On July 1, 1950, the union rates for journeymen
bookbinders in book and job printing in about
three-fourths of 77 cities surveyed were from $1.80
to $2.40 an hour. The average union rate was
$2.07 an hour.
The union wage scales for bookbinders as of
July 1, 1950, in most of the important printing
centers, are shown in the following tabulation.
Although employees in binderies are not so
strongly organized as other groups of printing
workers, many skilled bookbinders are represented
by the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders

(AFL), one of the six major unions of printing
workers. A higher proportion of journeymen
than of nonjourneymen bindery workers belong
to this union.
Atlanta, Ga______________ $2. 27 M inneapolis, M inn_______$2. 40
Baltim ore, Md_________ 1. 77 Newark, N. J _____ 1. 86-2. 28
Birmingham, A la______ 2. 08 New Haven, Conn________ 2.05
Boston, M ass__________ 2. 07 New Orleans, La__________ 2.10
Buffalo, N. Y___________ 2. 02 New York, N. Y___ . 97-2. 50
Butte, M ont___________ 2. 31 Oakland, C alif____________ 2.63
Charleston, W. Va_____ 2. 15 Oklahoma City,
Charlotte, N. C— _____ 1. 60 • Okla_____________________ 2.00
Chicago, 111_________2. 37-2. 60 Philadelphia, P a__1. 90-1. 95
Cincinnati, Ohio________ 2. 22 Pittsburgh, P a____________ 2.06
Cleveland, Ohio________ 2. 23 Portland, Oreg------------------ 2.51
Columbus, Ohio________ 2. 35 Richmond, Va_____________ 1.78
Dayton, Ohio_______ 2. 08-2. 28 Rochester, N. Y___ 2. 16-2. 24
Denver, Colo__________ 1. 98 St. Louis, Mo_____ 2. 08-2. 10
Des Moines, Iow a_____ 2. 00 St. Paul, M inn____ 2. 28-2. 33
Detroit, Mich_____ 2. 25-2. 40 San Antonio, Tex--------------- 1.80
Houston, Tex__________ 2. 16 San Francisco, Calif___ 2. 63
Indianapolis, Ind---------- 2. 23 Scranton, P a_____ 1. 92-1. 99
Jackson, M iss__________ 1. 60 Seattle, W ash------------------ 2.71
Jacksonville, F la______ 2. 00 South Bend, Ind__________ 2.18
K ansas City, Mo_______ 2. 27 Spokane, W ash___________ 2.32
L ittle Rock, Ark---------- 1. 87 Springfield, M ass__________ 2.00
Syracuse, N. Y-----------------Los Angeles, Calif_____ 2. 42 Toledo, Ohio---------------------- 1.55
Louisville, K y____ 1. 79-1. 80 W ashington, D. C______ 1 2. 191.91
Memphis, Tenn________ 1. 90 W ichita, K ans------------------- 2.09
Miami, F la-------------------- 1. 85 York, P a__________________ 1.95
Milwaukee, W is________ 2. 18 Youngstown, Ohio------------- 1.77
1 Excludes Government Printing Office.

Bindery Workers
(D. O. T. 6-49.000 through .199)

Outlook Summary


A gradually growing field made up mainly of
women workers. Fairly large number of open­
ings for newcomers in early fifties to replace
workers leaving their jobs.

For inexperienced men and women entering the
occupation a training period which may be as
long as 1 or 2 years is frequently required. In
union shops, there are always formal training

Nature of Work

In many binderies, especially large ones, a great
part of the work is done by employees trained in
only one operation or in a small number of related
tasks. These semiskilled workers, often classi­
fied as bindery workers or bindery hands, are
mostly women (hence the common designation
bindery women). Women handle a variety of
hand or light-machine operations, such as hand­
folding, pasting-in of inserts, assembling signa­
tures by hand, machine-sewing, gluing fabric rein­
forcement on signatures, and feeding machines.
The small number of men involved are usually as­
signed to more intricate machine jobs; they may
operate assembling, trimming, stamping, and
many other types of machines. Bindery workers
are employed both in independent binderies and
in the bindery departments of big printing plants
and of other operations.


Employment of bindery workers has risen con­
siderably since the end of the war. During the
early fifties the number of jobs is expected to re­
main about the same as in 1949, with a slight in­
crease possible.
Bindery workers are by far the largest group of
semiskilled workers in the printing and allied
industries. In 1939, roughly 70 to 80 thousand
women and men were in bindery work and sub­
stantially more are now employed. > Because this
is a relatively big field, and because there is usually
considerable turn-over among women employees,
there should be a fairly large number of openings
for new workers during the early fifties. The
long-range trend in employment is upward, and
those who obtain jobs in the early fifties have good
chances of reasonably steady work for many years
if favorable general business conditions continue.


Earnings and Unionization

Women bindery workers have the lowest wage
rates of any group of production workers in the
printing and allied industries (see following tabu­
lation). For example, even the union scales for
bindery women in effect in book and job printing
on July 1, 1950, in the cities covered in the annual
union wage scale survey of the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, were rarely over $1.45 an hour and more
than half of them were under $1.20. No scale,
however, was below the rate of 75 cents found in
Baltimore. The highest rate, $1.50, was in effect
in Seattle. The general average of the union
rates for bindery women in the cities surveyed was
Men doing semiskilled machine work are gener­
ally paid somewhat more than the usual top rate
for women. The few men performing semiskilled
hand operations are paid rates similar to those for
women workers.
The union hourly wage scales for bindery women
in book and job printing plants as of July 1,1950,
in most of the important printing centers, are
shown in the following tabulation.
Although employees in binderies are not so
strongly organized as other groups of printing
workers, many bindery workers are represented by


the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders
(AFL), one of the six major printing unions.
The proportion of semiskilled bindery personnel
organized is smaller than that for bookbinders and
bookbinder machine operators.
Atlanta, Ga_______ $1.17
Baltimore, Md__ . 75- 93
Birmingham, Ala__ 1.10
Boston, Mass______ 1.11
Buffalo, N. Y______ 1. 04
Butte, Mont______ 1. 37
Charleston, W. Va__ 1.21
Charlotte, N. C____ . 95
Chicago, 111___ 1. 37-1. 42
Cincinnati, Ohio___ 1. 27
Cleveland, Ohio. 1. 08-1.15
Columbis, Ohio____ 1. 29
Dayton, Ohio__ 1. 05-1. 31
Denver, Oolo______ 1.15
Des Moines, Iowa_1.11
Detroit, Mich_1.15-1. 25
Houston, Tex_____ 1. 22
Indianapolis, Ind__ 1. 24
Jacksonville, Fla__ . 90
Kansas City, Mo___ 1. 28
Little Rock, Ark__ . 98
Los Angeles, Calif_1. 45
Louisville, Ky__ 1. 03-1. 06
Memphis, Tenn____ . 95
Miami, Fla________ 1. 05
Milwaukee, Wis___ 1. 08
Minneapolis, Minn_1. 20

Newark, N. J______ $1.19
New Haven,
Conn_______ 1. 00-1. 05
New Orleans, La___ 1. 00
New York, N. Y_ 1. 00-1. 23
Oakland, Calif____ 1.48
Oklahoma City,Okla_ 1. 09
Philadelphia, Pa__ 1. 00
Pittsburgh, P a ____ 1.12
Portland, Oreg____ 1. 39
Richmond, Va_____ .94
Rochester, N. Y_ 1.14-1. 25
St. Louis, Mo_____ 1.15
St. Paul, Minn_1.10-1.17
San Antonio, Tex
. 93
San Francisco, Calif_ 1. 48
Scranton, Pa_____ 1.13
Seattle, Wash_____ 1. 50
South Bend, Ind__ 1.15
Spokane, Wash____ 1. 29
Springfield, Mass__ 1. 03
Syracuse, N. Y____ . 93
Toledo, Ohio______ 1. 20
Washington, D. C.__ 11. 05
Wichita, Kans____ 1.16
York, Pa__________ 1.10
Youngstown, Ohio_ . 85

1 Excludes Government Printing Office.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102